Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks seven-game winning streak comes to screeching halt in Boston

Four takeaways: Blackhawks seven-game winning streak comes to screeching halt in Boston

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday:

1. Early missed opportunity 

The Blackhawks started exactly how you want to on the road. They recorded the first four shots on goal, didn't allow the Bruins to get their first until the 5:01 mark, and went up 1-0 after Alex DeBrincat scored at 4:22. They were dictating the pace of play.

Then the Blackhawks were awarded back-to-back power plays, including a 5-on-3 opportunity for 49 seconds. But they failed to capitalize on it, and the big kill pumped life into the Bruins, who responded in a big way.

David Krejci, Danton Heinen and Brad Marchand each scored in a span of 4:12 towards the latter stages of the opening frame to go up 3-1, and the Blackhawks didn't record a shot on goal in the final 9:27. The final 10 minutes was a complete 180 from the first 10, and it changed the complexion of the game.

2. No Pastrnak? No problem

The Bruins announced on Tuesday morning that leading goal scorer and point getter David Pastrnak would be out at least two weeks after injuring his thumb in a fluke accident over the weekend. Second-year forward Heinen slid into his role on the top line, and the top-six forward group didn't skip a beat.

Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and Heinen combined for two goals and seven assists, while Jake DeBrusk (one goal, two assists) and Krejci (two goals, one assist) each had three-point outings. The Blackhawks simply had no answer for Boston's first two lines.

3. Too many penalties

After going down 3-1 at the end of the first period, the Blackhawks knew they were going to be playing catch-up all game. But it's hard to do that when you're playing shorthanded.

The Blackhawks committed six minor penalties, including five in a span of 15:29 in between the second and third periods, and it prevented them from generating any sort of momentum. The Bruins converted on two of those opportunities, the second of which made it 5-3 after the Blackhawks had pulled within a goal. And it proved to be the dagger.

4. Defensive breakdowns

The Blackhawks really struggled with their defensive zone coverage, and it was a particularly rough night for their second and third pairing defensemen. 

Gustav Forsling and Erik Gustafsson had a minus-15 shot attempt differential when they were on the ice at even strength, and were on the ice for only one scoring chance for and 12 against, according to naturalstattrick.com. Gustafsson did, however, score a power play goal for his 12th tally of the season, which is now tied for third among NHL defensemen.

Meanwhile, Carl Dahlstrom was on the ice for four of Boston's six goals — three at even strength — and Connor Murphy was on the ice for three of them — two at even strength. 

Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were the only two defensemen with a positive scoring chances for percentage at even strength. Keith scored his second goal in six games, had a multi-point game and was on the ice for all three Blackhawks goals. Seabrook had six shot attempts (three on goal), three hits, three takeaways and three blocked shots.

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

kirby_dach_rockford.jpg
Rockford IceHogs

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

Kirby Dach made his pro debut on Saturday, but it wasn't with the Blackhawks.

The No. 3 overall pick from this past June was activated from his injured/non-roster designation and assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League for conditioning purposes and jumped right into the lineup. He didn't appear in any NHL preseason games because he was under the league's concussion protocol during training camp.

In his season debut, Dach recorded two shots on goal and had a minus-1 rating in a 4-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. He centered the fourth line with Brandon Hagel and Nick Moutrey.

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton discussed the decision to send Dach to Rockford after Saturday's game against the Winnipeg Jets, and it sounds like the organization remains committed to giving him a look at the NHL level whenever his conditioning stint is over.

"He hasn't played in a long time," Colliton said. "Missed training camp, missed the exhibition season. We think he can help us so we're trying to set him up, give him the best opportunity so when he does get the chance here he'll be as ready as he can be. It's a good league down there and a chance for him to get his feet wet against men. And I think he's been getting better and better in his practice time here with us. So I'm excited. Hopefully, he can gain confidence down there and then be ready to help us."

Because he's not eligible to play in the AHL full-time this season due to Canadian Hockey League rules, Dach's conditioning stint in Rockford can last up to 14 days, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, before the Blackhawks are forced to either recall him or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League.

Rockford has four more games over that span, with its next one on Monday against the Laval Rocket at BMO Harris Bank Center.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Saturday:

1. Squandering a two-goal lead

For the second straight home game, the Blackhawks jumped out in front and even built an early cushion by scoring the first two goals in the opening frame. But they allowed the Jets to score three unanswered, including the overtime winner by Mark Scheifele, to remain winless on the season (0-2-1).

"We did a good job in the first and they took it to us in the second," said Brandon Saad, who scored a shorthanded goal. "Lehnny made some big saves and the third was kind of even. But we definitely had chances to close it out and we didn’t. At least we got a point and we have to move on from it."

2. Another lackluster second period

If there's one thing you can point to that's been a trend in all three games so far, it's that the Blackhawks have been lackluster in the second period. And it's difficult to pinpoint why.

In the middle frame, the Blackhawks have 10 scoring chances for and 35 against at 5-on-5, two high-danger chances for and 10 against at 5-on-5 and a minus-19 shot differential, according to Natural Stat Trick. That's an area of the game they're trying to clean up and has been the downfall to their attempts of putting together a full 60-minute effort.

"Obviously it's been three in a row where we haven't been very good in the second period and to me that's where you show how good you are," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The best teams, they dominate the second period, so it's a point of emphasis for us. We'd like to control the tempo of the game and control the territory, out-chance the other team. That's where you show how good you are, so we're not close to where we want to be in that area."

3. Robin Lehner's debut

After going two weeks without game action, the Blackhawks gave the nod to Lehner, who went into Saturday with a 4-0-0 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in five career games against the Jets. He took the loss, but certainly did his part to deserve a win.

In regulation, Lehner stopped 30 of 32 shots for a save percentage of .938. The first goal was on the power play, the second came at 5-on-5 when Andrew Copp found himself all alone in front and the third was in overtime during 3-on-3 action. His 5-on-5 save percentage was .962, which will definitely work.

"I felt good," Lehner said. "I felt like I saw the puck well. I thought rebound control was good. Again, the first one is unfortunate, it squeaks through. But I was where I wanted to be in position and somehow it goes in. Gotta try to clean that up. And the third goal, it just dove on me. He missed his shot. It’s unfortunate. But I thought I made some good saves and felt comfortable. We got a point, which is something, but should’ve got a win today."

4. Penalty kill shows improvement

The Blackhawks gave up a power-play goal for the third consecutive contest, but this was close to being a perfect night for the penalty kill. They went 3-for-4 and gave up only four shots on goal in the 7:38 of shorthanded time.

On the first Jets power play of the night, Saad scored a shorthanded goal for his first of the season and the Blackhawks later generated two more scoring chances before the two minutes expired.

The power-play goal against should've been stopped by Lehner but he did everything right and had the shortside sealed, the puck just found a mini hole. The Blackhawks responded with a big kill and had one late in the third period also. No complaints.

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