Blackhawks

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.”

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

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AP

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday:

1. Corey Crawford steals the show

The Blackhawks had no business winning this game. They were being outshot 28-15 through two periods, committed four penalties and gave up 18 high-danger chances in the game. 

But Crawford bailed out his team like he often has done in the past, and was zoned in from the moment the puck dropped. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .974, picking up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017.

"Yeah, I felt good," Crawford said. "I think everyone was playing hard, rebounds, taking away sticks. That was a great effort by everyone."

"He was standing on his head for us," Patrick Kane said. "As Q would say, that’s a goalie win for us."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was vintage Crow."

2. Tic-tac-toe leads to go-ahead goal

The Blue Jackets were clearly the better team through two periods. The Blackhawks were fortunate to go into second intermission with the game still tied at 1-1.

The next goal was crucial, and they got it thanks to a give-and-go play by Brent Seabrook and Kane, who buried home a wide open net to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:14 left in regulation.

Was Kane expecting Seabrook to pass it back?

"No. Not a chance," Kane said laughing. "That’s his wheelhouse, coming right down there. He scores a lot of goals from that area. Saw it was like a 2-on-2, he was coming late, he jumped in the play on the first goal, did a great job, jumped in the play on that goal. Made a great pass. When I saw it come back, I just tried to stay patient, settle it down and make sure I hit the net, because I knew I had the whole open net."

3. Busy night for PK

The Blackhawks penalty kill was very busy. It was also on it's A-game, partly because their best penalty killer was Crawford.

The Blackhawks spent 6:31 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, allowing 11 shots total on it. But most importantly, they killed off all four penalties.

"We had some tough clears, but I thought we did some good things," Quenneville said. "We withstood some extended PK zone time there and found a way to keep us in the game. Obviously that next goal was huge and that second period was a big part of them having so much zone time, keeping us in our end. We'll say, hey good job, but Crow was the best penalty killer tonight."

4. Catching up with Kane on Artemi Panarin

Kane and Panarin spent only two seasons together, but they brought Blackhawks fans out of their seats on a nightly basis and it was amazing to watch the instant on-ice chemistry they shared. And most of it was non-verbal, which made it even more impressive. They were always on the same wavelength.

"Sometimes it takes time to build some chemistry but that was one of those things where it was like, I don't want to say instant chemistry, but after one or two preseason games we kind of new that maybe something special was going to happen," Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think he scored in his first game in the NHL, we had a really good game, we had the puck a lot, we sensed that this could be a fun way to play hockey."

Off the ice, Kane said Panarin would use Google translate on his phone to communicate while Kane would try using a Russian accent while saying English words.

The two of them got a chance to hang out for a little bit on Friday and Kane still keeps tabs on his former linemate.

"I always really enjoy watching him," Kane said. "If we have an off night or something, he's a really fun player to watch."

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets blockbuster trade from the 2017 offseason is always a hot topic in Chicago when things aren't going great. It especially is when the two teams square off against each other, like Saturday at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season.

If it wasn't already apparent in Chicago, Artemi Panarin has emerged as a real NHL superstar and is set for a giant payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He set a Blue Jackets record with 82 points in a single season and has nine points (three goals, six assists) through six games this season.

Brandon Saad, on the other hand, had a challenging first year back with the Blackhawks in 2017-18 after netting only 35 points in 82 games and is off to a slow start this year as well with zero goals and two assists through six games. After a demotion to the fourth line, he was close to being a healthy scratch on Thursday, which only magnifies where things are at as the two get ready to clash.

But Saad was never going to be able to replace Panarin's offensive production. Everybody knows that. Yet, the offensive comparisons will always be there as a barometer and that's something Saad doesn't think about, no matter how much fans talk about it.

"I don't think I do it," he said. "We're different players. He's a great player. Fans are going to do whatever comparisons they want, but at the end of the day you've got to be true to yourself and do what you bring to the table. He's a great player around the league. You can see his highlights and his goals, he's definitely a special player. But at the end of the day I've got confidence in my abilities too. We both bring different attributes, but they're going to make comparisons regardless."

A big reason why the Blackhawks reacquired Saad, other than his ability to play a 200-foot game, is because he carries a $6 million cap hit through 2020-21, which is two years more than Panarin at the same cap hit. (It's also important to note that the Blackhawks hoped they were getting a reliable, young backup goaltender in Anton Forsberg, but the injury to Corey Crawford thrust him into a role he wasn't exactly prepared for.)

It's not all rainbows for Columbus right now regarding where things stand with Panarin, who has made it clear he's not ready to sign a long-term extension. All signs point to the 26-year-old winger hitting the market, putting the Blue Jackets in a tricky situation ahead of the trade deadline. The Blackhawks very well could have found themselves in this position, too, had a deal not been made.

Both sides are dealing with their own challenges of the trade. Saad is still a key piece to the Blackhawks' puzzle and they're hoping to get more out of him, for no other reason than the team's overall success.

"You want to have success regardless of who you're playing for, who you're traded for, things like that," Saad said. "Naturally, just as competitors, you want to bring that excitement and you want to have success with the team and personally."