Blackhawks rally falls short in Game 5 OT loss to Ducks


Blackhawks rally falls short in Game 5 OT loss to Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Blackhawks have made it clear that no lead is safe against them.

They can come back from being down two or three goals, as they did to force overtime in Game 5 on Monday night. But the fact that they put themselves in that position in the first place was head scratching. And while they came close to pulling out a tremendous comeback victory, they’re instead on the brink of postseason elimination.

Jonathan Toews scored twice within the final 1:50 of regulation, but Matt Beleskey scored just 45 seconds into overtime as the Ducks took a 5-4 victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. The Ducks take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series; Game 6 is Wednesday night in Chicago.

Teuvo Teravainen recorded a goal and an assist and Patrick Sharp had two assists for the Blackhawks.

[MORE: Five Things from Game 5: Blackhawks season on the brink]

The end was dramatic and riveting. But it’s the beginning that loomed large. The Blackhawks were awful in the first 20 minutes unable to stop the Ducks in their end and unable to create anything in Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen’s end. When the Blackhawks finally got their first shot on goal — from Toews — more than 16 minutes had elapsed.

Meanwhile, the Ducks did whatever they wanted, scoring three goals — including Cam Fowler and Ryan Kesler’s within 32 seconds of each other — for a 3-0 edge.

“Certainly we didn’t start on time for the first time this series,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They talked about being ready, and that might have been the differential. But great comeback.”

It was that. The Blackhawks were down 4-2 after Patrick Maroon scored with 5:15 remaining in regulation. But they pulled Corey Crawford twice in the final two minutes, and Toews scored both times. His first shot hit off the iron and in to cut the Ducks’ lead to 4-3. His second, from the side of the goal, went off Andersen’s left skate and in to tie it 4-4 and force overtime.

“Even though they score three goals early in the first, we knew there was a lot of time and we just had to find our game and get our four lines rolling,” Toews said. “I don’t think it matters who you’re playing at this stage of the playoffs. If we were up three goals, we would for sure expect that their team would come back hard and try to dominate the next two periods. So we did the best we could.”

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But unlike previous overtime games, the Blackhawks couldn’t pull this one out. Bryan Bickell’s attempted dump-in shot went off Jakob Silfverberg, who tossed the puck to Ryan Kesler. While Corey Crawford stopped Kesler’s shot, Beleskey was there for the rebound and the victory.

The Blackhawks’ first period, arguably their worst 20-minute segment of the playoffs, was costly. Playing that poorly at any time is dangerous, especially against this Ducks team and especially at this juncture of the postseason. The Blackhawks almost got past it, thanks to Toews’ two late-regulation goals. Instead they return to the United Center having to win.

“We feel that we’re a tough team to get rid of. And now obviously the next game’s a must-win for us” Toews said. “A lot of guys, most guys, if not everybody in this room, definitely believe that that’s when we play our best when our backs are against the wall. So we’re ready for that challenge.

"As we say, it’s do-or-die. But we’ve got to move on, learn from the mistakes we made in this one. Really just throw everything we’ve got at them in the next game and try to keep this series alive.”

Blackhawks hit new low after epic collapse in St. Louis

USA Today

Blackhawks hit new low after epic collapse in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks needed something to feel good about going into a Central Division showdown against the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. A solid 60-minute effort would've sufficed, but a win would've trumped all, no matter how they got it. Two points translates into confidence and confidence turns into belief.

Well, both the Blackhawks' confidence and belief are starting to run thin after hitting a new low in Saturday's 4-3 loss.

For the second time in 10 days, the Blackhawks squandered a three-goal lead in the third period by giving up four unanswered goals in a span of 13:16 to a Blues team that, quite frankly, dominated the entire game. The Blues led in shot attempts (65-40), shots on goal (38-22), even-strength scoring chances (34-13) and even-strength high-danger chances (14-2), according to Natural Stat Trick, but couldn't crack a red-hot Corey Crawford until the third period. 

It was an epic collapse for the Blackhawks, who lost their fourth in a row and for the 10th time in 13 games. And there are no words to describe it.

"It shows where we're at," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We're not good enough in those situations. All we can do is continue to talk about and show the team and work together to make it better. That's the only way it gets better. We recognize the problem. We've got to find a way to take a step. I think we have taken steps at times, but it's not consistent enough."

The Blackhawks are a fragile team right now and you could see it in their body language from the opening faceoff, almost as if they're starting the game already down a couple goals. Can you remember the last time they opened a game by dictating the terms?

In dark times like these, your best players have to step up and take control and they did that on Saturday.

Brandon Saad scored twice, Jonathan Toews registered two primary assists, Patrick Kane ended a six-game goal drought and Crawford stopped the first 32 shots he faced before the Blues' third-period onslaught. And yet it still wasn’t enough.

Brent Seabrook and Toews — two members of the Blackhawks’ leadership group — were sitting at their stalls after the game awaiting the media and made no excuses. They accepted responsibility and acknowledged being in this position is unacceptable.

"Being out there in those situations, you got to take pride in it," Seabrook said. "I know I take a lot of pride in it. ... I know I'm on there for two [goals], the second and third one. It's a critical part of the game and I've got to be better in those moments."

"That sucks to blow that one with the lead that we had," Toews said. "But there's situations where we've got to get pucks out and I lost my check a few times."

So what now? Where do the Blackhawks go from here? Will it get worse before it gets better? 

Is the season even salvageable?

"Why not? One game at a time," Toews said. "We had a rough week. ... It's easy to look at the storyline and get really discouraged and come up with the wrong mentality in your mind about what can happen going forward, but it's the wrong way to go about it. We've just got to focus on tomorrow night and build off the things we keep doing well. Each guy has to look at himself and try to find ways to bring more out of himself every night."

The Blackhawks have been searching for answers all season and they’re not getting any closer to finding a solution. They’re getting further away from it.

A drastic change might be necessary, but the frustration stems from the Blackhawks knowing what the problem is on the ice and still not doing anything about it.

"We need to, when the game's on the line, buckle down, stop and start, make the right read,” Colliton said. “I know they know and I know we as a group know what we have to do to have success and it's just a matter of doing it."

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3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 4-3 against Blues

USA Today

3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 4-3 against Blues

The Blackhawks lost 4-3 to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Here are three takeaways: 

Blackhawks blow three-goal lead 

After Patrick Kane's beautiful stick-side snipe at 4:16 of the third period, the last place Hawks led the defending Stanley Cup champs 3-0 in St. Louis. It was going to be a huge moral victory for Chicago, who had lost three straight games and been outscored 10-3 in their past two. 

Twenty four seconds later, Tyler Bozak scored the first of four unanswered Blues' goals to give St. Louis their first lead of the game, and the final score in regulation, 4-3.

"Sucks to blow that one with the lead that we had, but there's situations where we've got to get pucks out, and I lost my check a few times," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said after the game. "Those guys can make plays when you turn the puck over and you lose your check, so just got to keep going back to the drawing board."

Alex Nylander turned the puck over in Chicago's D zone to Robert Thomas near the high slot, who gave the puck to Bozak for the Blues' first goal of the game which sprung three more. 

“If we benched every player who made a mistake, we wouldn’t have any players," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said after being asked if he thought about benching Nylander after the mishap.

Shot suppression has to happen

As they've done a lot this season, the Hawks allowed the opposition way too many shots on their net. The Blues were able to pepper Corey Crawford with 38. 

"I thought we had a good start to the third, obviously," Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "Crow was huge for us all night, really kept us in the game the whole game and I think we let him down."

Crawford and Robin Lehner have been leaned on too much this season by a struggling defense who's definitely missed Calvin de Haan (right shoulder) and Duncan Keith (groin) the past few games. Even before the pair's injuries, the netminders facing around 40 shots was happening too frequently. 

"We all take responsibility," Colliton said. "With the coaches, we have to find a way to prepare these guys better so that they can execute those types of reads when the game's on the line. So, that's it."

Colliton also said Keith began skating in Chicago. There's no set timetable for his return, but it should be sooner rather than later now. 

Saad doubles down

Forward Brandon Saad scored his ninth and tenth goals of the season in St. Louis on Saturday. His first goal came 19 seconds into the first period, assisted by Toews.

Saad's second goal of the game came 30 seconds into the third period. Toews used his body to maintain possession on the boards and feed Saad the puck in front of the net for his second helper. 

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