Game 7 loss, elimination 'really doesn't feel right' to Blackhawks

Game 7 loss, elimination 'really doesn't feel right' to Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS – Brent Seabrook’s shot caromed off one goal post before skidding through the blue paint and hitting the other, remaining out of the net.

In all of their success these past few seasons, the Blackhawks have gotten the clutch performances and some of those bounces. They didn’t get enough of either this postseason. And for the first time since 2012, the Blackhawks are done playing hockey in April.

Andrew Shaw scored his fourth goal of the series but former Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer supplied the winner as the St. Louis Blues eliminated the Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 7 of their first-round series on Monday night.

The Blackhawks are done after the first round for the first time since 2012, when the Arizona (then Phoenix) Coyotes eliminated them in six games.

That team was still trying to rebuild after the post-2010 Stanley Cup purge. This one felt it could go farther, and was tremendously disappointed that it didn’t.

“Huge disappointment for me,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “We didn’t get that excitement factor, we didn’t get that investment to take off.”

[WATCH: Brent Seabrook's shot attempt in third period hits both posts]

The Blackhawks went to the Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane combination heading into Game 5. Pairing them usually leads to scoring. But not this time: Kane had one goal and Toews had none. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks nearly advanced despite Toews' and Kane’s quiet postseason.

“You get that feeling that it’s going to be one of those things again, we feel from the get-go this season that we got the team to do it again,” Toews said. “I guess it’s obviously a long regular season and you get a tough matchup like St Louis, I guess at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter when you look at the other teams we could have been up against in our division, we’re gonna get a tough matchup in the first round. For a while people were saying this series looked like it was probably going to come down to one goal at the end, and it did.”

Yes it did.

And as much as the Blackhawks were denied on a bounce in their attempt to tie the game, the Blues took advantage of a bounce when they went ahead. Brouwer’s first shot, off a Robby Fabbri pass, hit the post. But he steadied himself and backhanded it past Corey Crawford to give the Blues that lead 8:31 into the third period.

“That was the ugliest goal I've ever scored and probably the most timely goal I've ever scored,” Brouwer said. “I was joking with [broadcaster Darren Pang] that if I didn't put that one in I might quit hockey. I just tried to stay with it; knowing the magnitude of the game, knowing how everything's been going. We've been having great opportunities but haven't been able to put them in.”

The Blackhawks were down 2-0 just 14 minutes into this one, thanks to goals from Jori Lehtera and Colton Parayko.

But just as they had come back from a two-game deficit in the series and a two-goal deficit in Game 6, the Blackhawks came back to tie this one. Marian Hossa scored late in the first period and Shaw added his power-play goal in the second. But that’s where the comeback stopped.

Crawford stopped 23 of 26 in the loss.

“It just doesn’t really feel right. Pretty quick right after to put everything right after into words. Obviously not the outcome we were looking for,” said Kane. “It’s not the exact start you want when you go down 1-0 first shift. That was disappointing. We fought back to get it to 2-2. Obviously they got that goal there in the third and you’re trying to play catch-up again. Maybe one too many times in the hole.”

The Blackhawks aren’t used to this, being done so early in the postseason. They’ve had a lot of success lately but that doesn’t take the sting away this spring. They thought they had enough to make a run at another Cup. They thought they had one more comeback in them. They didn’t.

“Obviously the last three years we’ve had a lot of success in the playoffs,” Duncan Keith said. “I think it’s fun. This is what we play for: these type of games, and these series and playing late into the year. It’s fun having short summers. Obviously, we’re going to have a longer summer this year.”

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut


Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Return of the Crow

The Blackhawks got their man back between the pipes after a 10-month layoff due to a concussion. And he looked like same old "Crow."

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 shots for a save percentage of .900. He faced 12 shots and eight scoring chances in the first period, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The biggest save he made was on a Michael Grabner breakaway in the third period, bailing out a turnover in the neutral zone.

"I think I felt better in the second and third," Crawford said. "But they really didn’t get that many opportunities early. It was nice. I think they flipped one in for the first one, so that was kind of good just to get in it and feel one early. We were close in that one all game and we created a lot. I thought [Antti] Raanta played really well.

"It was a tough, tough break at the end. Still felt I should have stopped that one. We were right there, we were creating a lot and gotta try to come up with that one. Just gotta forget about it and worry about the next game."

2. Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews extend point streaks

The hot start continues for the Blackhawks' two leading scorers, both of whom assisted on Erik Gustafsson's goal in the second period to stretch their point streaks to six games. DeBrincat and Toews each have 10 points this season.

3. Overtime streak ends

The Blackhawks made history by forcing five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team has ever done in the four major sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). But they didn't have the comeback magic in them this time.

Entering Thursday, the Blackhawks were 1-0-1 when trailing after two periods. They were 5-28-2 last season for a win percentage of .143.

4. Familiar faces, new places

Five former Blackhawks took the ice for the Coyotes: Vinnie Hinostroza, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Oesterle, Richard Panik and Antti Raanta.

It was Hjalmarsson's first trip back to Chicago since being traded in the 2017 offseason. He received a nice video tribute during the second TV timeout of the first period, which made him very emotional.

"I almost got emotional too seeing his reaction," Toews said. "He's one of those guys you'll never forget what he meant to this locker room. He was a quiet guy in the room but we all know how he played and put everyone else before himself. Pretty cool reaction from the fans too. I think we were all sad to see him leave this locker room, he did a lot of special things and was a massive part of our championship wins. Happy for him to get that reception. It's well-deserved and obviously we miss having him around."

As far as the game, Hjalmarsson logged a team-high 22:18 of ice time and blocked three shots. Oesterle registered a secondary assist on Arizona's first goal, which was its first 5-on-5 of the season.

Hinostroza, who was also part of the Marian Hossa trade over the summer, scored twice in his return to his hometown, beating Crawford with a wrist shot to make it 2-1 in the second period and an empty-netter in the third; his second goal turned out to be the game winner, the fourth of his career and first as a member of the Coyotes.

Panik recorded four shot attempts (three on goal). And Raanta improved to 16-0-3 in his career at the United Center, a remarkable record for any goaltender in any situation.