Four takeaways: Blackhawks push back, but can’t overcome hungry Blues


Four takeaways: Blackhawks push back, but can’t overcome hungry Blues

ST. LOUIS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 7-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center on Saturday:

1. A four-goal first period

The Blackhawks and Blues barely gave fans a chance to get settled into their seats (or couches at home). There were four total goals in the first period, including three in the opening 5:28 and the first coming 18 seconds in. All four goals came at even strength.

Ryan O'Reilly, Patrick Kane, Zach Sanford and Artem Anisimov each found the back of the net, alternating goals throughout the period.

"Even after we went down 1-0 we had that nice response to make it 1-1," Kane said. "It seemed like they were playing with a little bit more intensity than we were. We knew that was going to happen especially with the media attention, a lot of talk they've been getting about their team and kind of what happened last game. So we just didn't come out and match it."

2. Blackhawks dig hole in second period

The first 5:14 of the second period was a nightmare for the Blackhawks. They committed two penalties and gave up two goals within a span of 3:35, and essentially were forced to play catch-up the rest of the game.

The Blackhawks pushed back and were the better team for the next 15 minutes, recording 17 shot attempts to the Blues' five at even strength, but it was too much to overcome against a hungry Blues team.

"When we give up four goals, it's tough to come back against any team," Duncan Keith said. "They've got a lot of good players that have been around for a while. It wasn't a good start. We did some good things to get back into it, but at the end of the day when you're trying to come back against a team it's always tougher."

3. Second line comes alive

The second line of Anisimov, Kane and Brandon Saad was the driving force for the Blackhawks, combining for three goals and four assists. Anisimov and Kane each had three-point games.

With two more goals, Kane has taken over the NHL lead with 11 on the season and is four away from the lead in points with 17. Meanwhile, Anisimov quietly has seven points in his past seven games after going pointless in his first four. 

"Our line had some chances tonight," Kane said. "I thought we had a few that could have went in as well. Would have been nice to get a couple more there and tie it up and see what could happen after that. A couple breakdowns defensively that kind of killed us tonight."

4. Blues shut down Blackhawks in third period

Going into Saturday's matchup, the Blues had allowed 18 third-period goals through nine games, which was the worst in the league. But they tightened up in the final 20 minutes, limiting the Blackhawks to only five shots on goal and keeping all five out of their net.

The Blues scored three goals in the last 4:20 to seal the deal.

"I still think the game was there to be had but unfortunately we weren't good enough and we weren't at our best for whatever reason," Keith said. "Give them some credit, they moved it around on the power play and capitalized on their chances. But I still think the game was to be had, it was up for grabs, but it wasn't good enough at the end of the day."

Facing the Blackhawks in Round One is 'going to be fun' for Robin Lehner

Facing the Blackhawks in Round One is 'going to be fun' for Robin Lehner

Saturday afternoon, after eliminating the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in Game 4 on Friday night, the Blackhawks learned they'll be facing the Vegas Golden Knights and very likely a certain former Hawks goalie in Round One.

Robin Lehner was in net for the Knights in their overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche to help Vegas grab the No. 1 seed in the West for Round One, pitting them against the Blackhawks, who were the No. 12 seed in the qualifying round.

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner unveils new pads

Lehner has seen the majority of the starts in net for the Knights at the beginning of the postseason tournament over three-time Stanley Cup champ Marc-Andre Fleury.

The 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist was traded from Chicago to Vegas ahead of Feb. 24's trade deadline. He was 16-10-5 as a Hawk during the 2019-20 regular season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage prior to the move.

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner's birthday cake is unreal

Following Saturday's game, Lehner was asked about facing the Blackhawks and his former goalie partner Corey Crawford in Round One and if playing with them earlier this season carries an advantage.

"I don't know. All I know is it's going to be fun playing them," Lehner said. "They're a very good hockey team and I have a lot of respect for them, the whole organization... but I think I really like it here (with Vegas), we're a great hockey team."

The 29-year-old netminder got off to a hot start with Vegas ahead of the NHL pause on March 12 going 3-0-0 with 1.67 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. 

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Blackhawks to face Robin Lehner, Vegas in Round 1 of Stanley Cup Playoffs

Blackhawks to face Robin Lehner, Vegas in Round 1 of Stanley Cup Playoffs

It's official: The Blackhawks will face Robin Lehner and the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 overtime win in Saturday's round-robin finale to secure the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks, who eliminated the Edmonton Oilers in four games on Friday, will serve as the No. 8 seed.

The Blackhawks went 1-1-1 and had a minus-2 goal differential in three games against the Golden Knights this season. Their most recent matchup was on Dec. 11, which resulted in a 5-1 win for the Golden Knights.

You won't find a better puck possession team in the league than the Golden Knights, who generated the most scoring chances and high-danger chances at even strength of any team this season. The Blackhawks will certainly have their work cut out for them.

"It’s a great challenge for us," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I'm happy that we get the opportunity to prepare for them and compete against them. We feel that we’ve been getting better all the time and it’s going to be a great test for us."

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