Blackhawks

Late struggles lead to shootout loss for Hawks

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Late struggles lead to shootout loss for Hawks

The Chicago Blackhawks had a problem last season holding onto slim leads in third periods.

And while doing it once in this early season hardly constitutes a problem, the Blackhawks still weren't too happy they did it.

Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane scored but the Bruins tied it midway through the third and won it in a 3-2 shootout at the United Center on Saturday night. The Blackhawks held a 2-1 advantage until Nathan Horton scored with 7:56 remaining in the third period. While it's still early and the Blackhawks will take that point, there's no doubt they lost their hold on this one.

"We had a couple plays in second period late in shifts where we were trying to make one more play," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We lost the momentum. We should be going ahead with the puck and we go back and it ends up in our net."

The momentum swung from the Blackhawks early to the Bruins late, but one thing was constant: the goaltending. And for both sides, it was stellar. Corey Crawford, who missed the first two days of practice this week, stopped 35 of 37 shots. Crawford said he felt good after his early-week malady.

"It was a pretty exciting game in the third," Crawford said. "But I've got to find a way to make another save when we're up 2-1 and try to close it out."

Meanwhile, Bruins netminder Tim Thomas flashed the brilliance that helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup last spring. He stopped 27 of 29 in regulation and denied Jonathan Toews, Kane and Patrick Sharp in the shootout.

"I dont read (shootout attempts) until the last minute," he said. "On all three, because of two five-hole goals tonight, I was trying to make sure they couldnt have the five-hole first, but tried to keep myself in position to cover the other spots."

The Blackhawks could've avoided the shootout altogether if they'd been sharper in the third period. Be it their sloppiness or the Bruins surge, Boston took control and the Blackhawks couldn't get that two-goal advantage.

"For whatever reason we didn't play the way we wanted to in the third," said Kane, who had another stellar game at center. "It's tough to give up a goal (leading) 2-1. It seemed like we were playing back, not pushing the pace. You don't want to cheat and push too much, but at the same time it would've been nice to make it 3-1."

The Blackhawks aren't going to sweat this one too much. The goaltending was sharp. Boston, coming off a summer of celebrations or not, is a deep and talented team. The 60-minute games will come.

"We lost the momentum even though we had the lead in the third," Quenneville said. "You don't have to give them anything but we did."

Briefly

Daniel Carcillo was active physically again, credited with a game-high eight hits. Bryan Bickell was next with six.

Marian Hossa did not play on Saturday night. Coach Joel Quenneville said again after the game that Hossa's upper-body injury is "not that bad. We're hoping he practices Monday and plays Tuesday (against Phoenix)."

Viktor Stalberg returned to the lineup after missing two and a half weeks with a left knee injury.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis is joined by Scott Powers of The Athletic to discuss Stan Bowman's comments following the Marian Hossa trade and debate whether they're finished making moves this summer.

They also provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks' top prospects and which players have caught their attention as development camp winds down.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Jonathan Toews watched a lot of playoff hockey this spring. 

"Quite a bit," he admitted Wednesday before making his Chicago Pro Hockey League debut at MB Ice Arena. "More than usual."

That's because the Blackhawks missed out on the postseason for the first time since his rookie year in 2007-08. It's obviously not a position he'd like himself or his team to be in, especially after experiencing three Stanley Cups in a six-year span.

But you have to find a way to take the positives out of it at this point and let it fuel you for the upcoming campaign.

"You always want to be there playing," Toews said. "But when you can maybe step away from the game a little bit and just kind of breathe and — at the same time, look back and realize you’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of success. Obviously there’s no satisfaction there, but you understand it’s not the worst thing to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what you’ve been able to experience, because I think failing to get to the playoffs makes you realize how difficult it really is and maybe it’s something you took for granted.

"But watching more hockey this spring, I think, is something that was really motivating and kind of inspiring and exciting to want to get back to that level again. You dream of playing in the NHL, but at the end of the day, you want to play playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about."

There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Blackhawks last season and contributed to why they watched the playoffs from home, whether it's the Corey Crawford injury, the down season from Brandon Saad, or the inexperience on the blue line.

For Toews, who turned 30 in April, it's about regaining that old form that made him one of the top players in the NHL and hoping it can filter down the rest of the Blackhawks lineup.

"For me, it’s part of just recapturing that energy, that motivation, excitement and that mindset of a young player who takes nothing for granted, that you had in your younger days," he said. "But also carrying the experience with you and understanding the impact of what you say, what you do, how you carry yourself can impact your teammates, especially the young guys. For me, it comes down to knowing what to say at the right time. But letting my play be the thing that helps me lead by example. No better time than now to use that experience and that excitement trying to rebound off the season we had last year."

If there's any reason to have belief that the Blackhawks can turn it around quickly, look no further than the two teams that collided in the Stanley Cup Final: Vegas and Washington. 

The Golden Knights had the longest odds to win it all at the beginning of the season while the Capitals' championship window was perceived to be closed after they failed to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 in the second round yet again with a loaded roster. But it's not about what's on paper.

"Watching that last series, you just knew it came down to who had the most, the deepest belief in themselves," Toews said. "I even had a hard time predicting who was going to win every series. It could’ve gone either way in a lot of situations. It’s not only motivating, seeing how fast that play was and to have missed out on playoff hockey this year and to have the drive to get back there, but knowing if you do sneak into the playoffs it doesn’t matter. You can go a long way.

"For us, thinking, 'OK, we're gonna back and win a Stanley Cup this year,' it sounds like a long shot. But as always, our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs and being ready to hit our stride when we get there."