Blackhawks can't maintain momentum in Game 4 loss to Blues

Blackhawks can't maintain momentum in Game 4 loss to Blues

The Blackhawks scored on a second-period power play, an advantage nobody’s certain how they got, to take a 2-1 lead.

It got the United Center cheering. It could have left the St. Louis Blues reeling. But once again the Blues shook off any frustration they felt and started scoring.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and Brian Elliott stopped 39 of 42 shots as the St. Louis Blues beat the Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 4 of their first-round series on Tuesday night.

The Blues took a 3-1 series lead heading back to St. Louis, where they have the chance to eliminate the Blackhawks in Game 5 on Thursday.

In the end, it was the Blackhawks who looked frustrated. Trailing 4-3 with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, Andrew Shaw took a roughing penalty basically taking away any chance the Blackhawks had of tying the game.

The Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead on a power play that was surprising, to say the least.

Jonathan Toews pushed Robby Fabbri into Corey Crawford, who went after Fabbri. The two fought in the corner and other scrums soon ensued. But somehow the Blackhawks ended up with the power play – Fabbri was called for goaltender interference and Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk were called for roughing, while Crawford and Andrew Ladd also got roughing penalties. Duncan Keith’s goal gave the Blackhawks that lead 13:09 into the second period.

“We were in a great spot. We got the momentum, had some zone time and had some great chances in the second period,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Power play and they made a great shot and they’re in the ballgame again. But it’s still a hockey game.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It was still a hockey game when Tarasenko scored his second goal, a power-play effort, to tie the game, 2-2. It soon became a little more one-sided for the Blues. Jaden Schwartz added a power-play goal of his own early in the third period and Alex Steen intercepted a Trevor van Riemsdyk pass and broke free to give the Blues a 4-2 lead.

Duncan Keith scored with about five minutes remaining in regulation but Andrew Shaw took a roughing penalty with just over two minutes remaining in the game. That pretty much sealed it.

“We’ve got to be smart. It’s just makes it tougher on us,” Keith said of the Blackhawks. “We’re trying to compete. It’s tough. I mean, sometimes it’s just, I don’t know. I don’t get into that. Two minutes left in the game, everyone’s battling out there and we’re killing a penalty. I didn’t see the call. It’s tough to comment on it. Shawzy’s battling. He’s battling all year. He competes hard in the playoffs and that’s what we want. That’s what we need out of him. I don’t think we blame him at all. It’s trying to get to the net and they call some things and they don’t. It is what it is.”

Now the Blackhawks are in a tough spot.

Yes, they were down 3-1 in playoff series in 2013 and again in 2014 – they came back to beat the Detroit Red Wings in 2013 but fell to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014. But this team feels different. The Blues seem to be the one in control with the Blackhawks struggling and losing their usual cool. They have a chance to force Game 6 on Thursday. They’ll have to bring more than they did on Tuesday to do that.

“Gotta play smart, gotta be disciplined,” Quenneville said. “Gotta play the right way and try to be stingy.”

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Evan Bouchard

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."

NHL player comparable: John Carlson/Alex Pietrangelo

Fit for Blackhawks:

At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Bouchard is one of the most NHL-ready defensemen in this year's draft and that could be appetizing for a team like the Blackhawks, who are looking for immediate help on the blue line. But Bouchard is a right-handed shot, and drafting him would add a third high-end right-handed shot defenseman to the organization, along with prospects Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell.

You can never have enough of them, but there's only room for three before somebody would have to play on their off hand and that would mean the third would be playing on the bottom pairing. All three of these players have Top 4 potential.

Still, that may not even come into play here. The Blackhawks will seek to take the best available player, like they always have. And if they feel it's Bouchard, they'll do it.

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.