Blackhawks

Blackhawks' five-game win streak ends in loss to Talbot, Oilers

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks' five-game win streak ends in loss to Talbot, Oilers

It would be easy to look at the outcome, the 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, and assume the Blackhawks were the latest team to fall prey to the post-bye-week-lack-of-vigor factor.

But that wasn’t the case. The Blackhawks had the energy. They had the shots. They had the opportunities. They gave up little on the other end. It was, as Jonathan Toews called it, one that may have gone the Blackhawks’ way if they had had a “little more puck luck.”

Cam Talbot stopped 38 of 39 shots and Milan Lucic’s third-period goal proved to be the winner as the Edmonton Oilers beat the Blackhawks in the latter’s return to the United Center. The Blackhawks, who had a five-game winning streak prior to their bye week, now trail the Minnesota Wild by nine points. The Wild beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Saturday night.

The Blackhawks had great energy early, outshooting the Oilers 12-4. But from the start Talbot was sharp, denying the Blackhawks on one chance after another. Throw in two iron shots (Marian Hossa off the crossbar and Artemi Panarin off the post) and the Blackhawks just couldn’t manage much against Talbot.

The Oilers didn’t fare much better until after Ryan Hartman got into a fight with Eric Gryba – Gryba had hit Tanner Kero along the boards moments before that. Hartman was hit with an instigator, five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct. The Blackhawks missed having Hartman that period and the Oilers got the go-ahead goal on the ensuing power play. Matt Benning’s shot hit Corey Crawford, went off Trevor van Riemsdyk and past Crawford for a 1-0 lead.

Coach Joel Quenneville had no problem with Hartman’s fight.

“He’s a competitive guy. We like him to have that abrasiveness and unpredictability so there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “We like how he competes and what he brings us.”

Talbot finally gave one up late in the third period when Richard Panik scored his 15th of the season, late in the third period. The Blackhawks couldn’t do much more, however, with Connor McDavid getting the empty-net goal with 27 seconds remaining in regulation.

For Toews, there was no blaming the Blackhawks’ six-day break for this one.

“I can’t speak for what other teams felt like coming off the break. But we worked pretty hard today,” Toews said. “There’s no doubt, energy-wise, it’s hard. You have to find ways to keep your shifts short, play smart. When you’re off the ice for five days, sometimes you get a little rust you have to work out. For the most part we moved he puck well, we checked well, we kept that team away from doing what they wanted to do. We had the puck for the majority of the night.”

Quenneville liked the overall game and also said there was no bye-week issues. Still he thought the Blackhawks’ shot selection, especially around the net, could have been better.

“Whether it wasn’t the feel of it or didn’t sense the timing of it, anticipating the puck where it was, we missed a lot of opportunities that could’ve been high-quality chances that didn’t even get developed. And we did have some good chances,” he said. “Whether we didn’t elevate it or didn’t have the traffic or the patience or even the shot, our shots tonight were off.”

The Blackhawks were down 1-0 until midway through the second period when Lucic’s goal eluded Crawford. The Blackhawks’ goaltender wasn’t happy with that one.

“Just couldn’t find the net there and gave up a bad one. But it kind of had some momentum there at the end, too, and had some chances,” Crawford said. “Yeah, we played a good game. We created a lot and it was a lot better, I guess, than everyone thought it was going to be for us. You can’t ask for more than that."

Well, the Blackhawks could’ve used a victory because, despite all their great work on the road, they’re still trailing the Wild by a healthy margin. That, and they played well enough to have a better fate on Saturday night.

“We’re pretty happy with the effort, the 60-minute effort,” Toews said. “You’re always disappointed when you don’t get the result.”

Are Canadiens eyeing possible trade with Blackhawks?

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USA Today

Are Canadiens eyeing possible trade with Blackhawks?

The NHL trade deadline isn’t for another two-plus months, but this is an important time of year because all 31 teams have a pretty good idea of what its roster is as the standings take shape going into the 2020 calendar year. 

Management groups across the league are starting to gather more information and dig deeper on players they could be interested in ahead of the Feb. 24 deadline, whether it’s a buyer or a seller.

One frequent observer in Chicago has been the Montreal Canadiens, who have heavily scouted both the Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has been spotted multiple times at the United Center this season, including Sunday, and has made several trips to Rockford as well.

It’s believed the Canadiens are searching for a left-handed shot defenseman and that’s a position the Blackhawks have a surplus of. Erik Gustafsson, most notably, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and there haven’t been any talks about a possible extension to this point, according to a source.

With Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol), Duncan Keith (groin) and Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol) sidelined, the Blackhawks have had the opportunity to evaluate some of their prospects at the NHL level recently.

Dennis Gilbert and Anton Wedin have gotten several looks already, and same with Adam Boqvist and Matthew Highmore, both of whom were recalled on Monday ahead of the Blackhawks' three-game road trip. Dylan Sikura was called up over the weekend and made his season debut on Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes.

It’s too early to speculate what the Blackhawks’ trade-deadline plans may be because it will likely be determined by where they sit in the standings come February, but it’s worth monitoring going forward, as we discussed on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast. The Blackhawks and Canadiens are each five points out of a playoff spot in their respective conferences.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Why are the Blackhawks so inconsistent?

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Why are the Blackhawks so inconsistent?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis and Nick Gismondi discuss the coaches getting involved in practice (0:40), the latest roster moves (2:45), Dennis Gilbert standing up for Alex DeBrincat (7:15), Robin Lehner's shootout struggles (13:45), the Blackhawks' inconsistency woes (17:45), performance vs. results (23:50) and the importance of the next eight games (27:35).

Listen to the full episode here or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.