ST. LOUIS – Sometimes it’s about what you gain. The Blackhawks will take that part from Wednesday. But they’re certainly not thrilled with what they lost, which is another critical point at this juncture.
But they’ll still head to Dallas in first place in the Central Division despite their 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues. So before we head that way, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ shootout loss.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]
1. The penalty kill struggles again. The Blackhawks liked what they did on the kill against Detroit on Sunday. They didn’t like it at all on Wednesday. The Blackhawks didn’t give up their first power play until the third period; then they gave up two goals on three Blues advantages. It was an outing that had coach Joel Quenneville angry. Understandably so, since the Blackhawks had a 1-0 lead entering the third period.
2. Jonathan Toews is OK. It wasn’t the hit that hurt Toews so much as him running into a partially open door on the Blues bench. Toews went out for a quick shift before going to the locker room, but he returned a few minutes later. Toews said it was just a hip flexor. “Just had to try and keep it warm and make sure I could keep moving with it,” Toews said. “Didn’t feel good at first, but as the game went on, it got better and better.”
3. The Blues’ penalty kill withstands damage. Yes, the Blackhawks did score one power-play goal on Ryan Reaves’ five-minute charging call. But the Blackhawks were thwarted on two previous power plays. And even after Andrew Ladd’s power-play goal, the Blackhawks had ninety seconds remaining on Reaves’ penalty. The Blues and Jake Allen, however, kept the Blackhawks’ power play – No. 1 overall and No. 2 on the road – from scoring more. The Blues’ penalty kill is the best in the league for a reason.
4. Artemi Panarin just keeps going. The rookie had a timely goal on Wednesday, scoring with just 1:17 remaining in regulation to tie the game and keep the Blackhawks’ leading-after-two-periods record without a regulation loss (they’re now 32-0-3 this season). Panarin leads all NHL rookies in goals (25) assists (37) and points (62).
5. Prepping for Dallas. The Blackhawks will get past this one quick because they don’t have another choice. They’re headed back to Dallas for another first-place tussle. Will Marian Hossa return for this one? The forward said he’ll see day-by-day on his lower-body injury. Considering how close he was to starting tonight, it won’t be surprising if he suits up on Friday.