Blackhawks lose third period lead, game vs. Blues in Game 3

Blackhawks lose third period lead, game vs. Blues in Game 3

A dominating second and a lead after 40 minutes: that’s usually been a great sign for the Blackhawks, who hadn’t lost a game in regulation with a lead after two periods since 2014.

But all streaks must end and the St. Louis Blues, who came back twice to beat the Blackhawks here in this regular season, did it to them again on Sunday.

Jaden Schwartz scored the game-winning power-play goal and Brian Elliott stopped 44 of 46 shots as the Blues upended the Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 3 of their first-round series on Sunday afternoon. The Blues take a 2-1 lead in the series, which continues Tuesday here at the United Center.

Corey Crawford stopped 33 of 36 in the loss.

The Blackhawks were 71-0-5 when leading after two since the 2014 postseason. So they felt pretty good after a very strong second period in which they peppered Elliott with 24 shots and took a 2-1 lead on Artem Anisimov’s goal.

But this Blues team wasn’t going away and thanks to another goal deflected off a Blackhawks player and taking advantage of Patrick Kane’s double-minor high-sticking, the Blues have put the Blackhawks back in a series hole.

“We’re in a great spot, probably had more chances in the second period than we had all year. Still a one-goal game, though. We tried to make a play and it ended up in our net, fortunate bounce by them. Then trying to get through a four-minute kill and they scored right off the bat,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a couple of looks that could have been close but that was a tough loss.”

It was tough for Kane, too, who was frustrated and took responsibility for that high-sticking that led to Schwartz’s game winner.

“Just got to be smarter in that situation. Can’t take a penalty at that time of the game, especially when the game’s 2-2,” Kane said. “Still didn’t mind the way we were playing. Just a couple of bad bounces and a bad penalty.”

The Blackhawks couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. After Blues coach Ken Hitchcock warned his team about staying out of the penalty box, the Blues put the Blackhawks on three early power plays. The Blackhawks capitalized on their first advantage when Brent Seabrook laced a power-play goal through Elliott for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead just 2:18 into the game.

Colton Parayko tied the game with his power-play goal later in the first.

Then Anisimov got his first of the postseason, scoring after Artemi Panarin forced a Parayko turnover along the boards. That lead would remain until early in the third Patrik Berglund’s shot went off Michal Rozsival’s leg and past Crawford to tie it. Then came Kane’s penalty and Schwartz’s winner.

“Unfortunate turn of events in the third,” Jonathan Toews said. “But offensively, I think we can keep creating the way we have with the puck down low and working for those second chances and those rebounds around the net and just finding those ugly goals. At the other end of the rink we obviously have some improvements to make in managing the puck a little bit better.”

The Blackhawks were in a good and familiar position through two periods on Sunday. The Blues, however, had other ideas. The Blackhawks are familiar with being down in a series, including being down in a series to the Blues. They had a chance to finish the Blues off but couldn’t. Now they have to forget about this one and make sure the finish is there on Tuesday.

“All that’s important right now is the next game,” Crawford said. “It was loud in here. We had so [much] good momentum, good shifts and good plays in the offensive zone. We had some good looks. We’ve just got to carry those things into the next game.”

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

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

Adam Boqvist

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 168 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Boqvist is a finesse defenseman who is very skilled, possesses excellent vision and tons of talent. He is fun to watch and full of surprises on the ice. He often plays bigger than his size and skated in his first games with Sweden's Senior National Team in April."

NHL player comparable: Erik Karlsson

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would love to have Karlsson, who is probably being traded out of Ottawa this summer. Every team would love to have him. But that's not realistic for Chicago. So what if they drafted his potential mini me?

Boqvist is electric with the puck and has drawn comparisons to the Swedish defenseman as a best-case scenario.

There are two concerns, though. One is that he may need some time to develop at just 17 years old and his defense a work in progress. The second is that he's sustained head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds a little bit of risk to the equation.

If he can stay healthy and his development isn't rushed, there's major upside here. But are the Blackhawks willing to be patient? We're not so sure.

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?


Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

Here's an interesting development as we approach the NHL Draft: Artemi Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets that he's not ready to consider an extension "at this time" and because of that, Columbus is testing the market for the Russian winger, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded to the report shortly after in a statement released by the team:

"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”

Ironically, Panarin was traded to Columbus on the afternoon of last year's draft as part of a blockbuster package that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. It shook up the hockey world, and has the potential to do so again.

Panarin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but is free to sign an extension with Columbus on July 1. Clearly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now and it's why the Blue Jackets have to put out feelers. They can't risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side, Panarin has every right to test the open market. He has one year left on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. He's due for a hefty raise, will be 27 years old next summer — the prime of his hockey career — and will certainly be looking for a long-term deal after accepting a bridge contract with the Blackhawks.

Speaking of whom, should his former team explore bringing him back to Chicago now that he's on the market?

Every general manager should and will do their due diligence and call for an asking price, Stan Bowman included. Those conversations might start with Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, and if that's the case, you say thanks but no thanks and move on. 

The Blackhawks have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks in this year's draft as possible ammunition, but the Blue Jackets are ready to take that next step. They were up 2-0 in their first-round series before losing four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It's unlikely they'd be looking to center a potential deal around draft picks. 

The only way you even consider it from the Blackhawks perspective is if Panarin is guaranteed to sign a long-term extension at a price you're comfortable with, but that's one of the main reasons why they traded him in the first place. 

To cap it all off, trading for Panarin wouldn't even address the Blackhawks' biggest need and that's a Top 4 defenseman. Those don't grow on trees. The Blackhawks will have the cap space to sign a player like James van Riemsdyk to patch up their top 6. You can't say the same for the free-agent blue line group.

So while it may certainly be fun for Blackhawks fans to come up with possible trade scenarios to get Panarin back in an Indianhead sweater, it just doesn't make great sense for a variety of reasons.