DENVER — Well, it was looking like the Blackhawks could finish this regular season with a victory. But with a few seconds remaining they fell, with Jarome Iginla’s power-play goal giving the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 lead.
But that’s all done now. The Blackhawks, whether they won this game or not, were taking third in the Central Division and facing the Nashville Predators in the first round. It was a good opportunity for the Blackhawks to rest a few players, namely Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford.
Still, we write this particular story for a reason. So before we get ready for the most wonderful time of the (sports) year, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to the Avs.
1. Take the penalty kill for what it was tonight. Yes, the Blackhawks’ kill hasn’t been that good down the stretch, and it gave up the game-winning goal with 39 seconds remaining in regulation on Saturday night. But keep this in mind: no Toews, no Keith and no Marian Hossa, who played the game but did not play on the penalty kill. Toews has been off the kill for a few days. Joakim Nordstrom missed several games with an upper-body injury. So with a full group for the postseason, we expect the kill to be better.
2. Hossa is still pretty damn great. We wouldn’t have been surprised if Hossa had taken tonight’s game off, and if the Blackhawks had more reserves on hand, perhaps he would have. Instead he played a tremendous game, once again showing that great skill, with or without the puck. Hossa, who certainly deserved a goal or two with his outing, did assist on Brandon Saad’s 23rd goal of the season.
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3. Kyle Baun impresses. The forward drew rave reviews from coach Joel Quenneville for his three regular-season games, including Saturday’s. “He showed a lot of good things,” Quenneville said. “He showed he has NHL pace and he has a great mind for the game. He picks up quickly on his responsibilities, offensively, defensively, pace. It was a good start for him.” Baun is ineligible to play in the postseason but this audition certainly bodes well as he enters training camp in September.
4. Michael Paliotta had a nice game, too. The defenseman got his first NHL game in on Saturday night and got his first NHL point in the second period, adding the secondary assist on Patrick Sharp’s goal. Paliotta played just under 13 minutes and had two blocked shots.
5. Turn the page. The regular season is over. The Blackhawks would’ve liked to have won the Central Division, get home ice but they didn’t do either. They can’t think about that anymore, as a hungry Predators team waits. We talk a lot about flipping the switch. After a lackluster end to the regular season, will the Blackhawks do that as soon as the postseason begins?