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.

The Blackhawks' uphill battle 'just sucks', so it's time to spark some optimism

The Blackhawks' uphill battle 'just sucks', so it's time to spark some optimism

Sitting eight points out of the playoffs, with four teams to jump and trade rumors circulating, the Blackhawks just need to feel good. 

It was clear at Fifth Third Arena on Thursday following off-ice work and meetings that the Hawks aren't feeling too hot about where they're at. Truthfully, the vibe could have best been compared to the type of demeanor and commentary you'd witness from players at the conclusion of a season in which they didn't make the playoffs, like the last two.

The Hawks more than likely sealed their non-postseason fate for the third straight year after going 1-4-0 on their recent road trip in Canada.

"I don't know if we're necessarily thinking about playoffs," Chicago forward Ryan Carpenter said. "That's still so many games away. But yeah, we're optimistic in here, we've gone on streaks before. 

"But right now this just sucks, the feeling in the locker room, and losing. No one’s happy in here, including myself, and we've got to find a way to figure it out. [Friday] will be a good chance against a good team in Nashville, and we'll be home and we'll see how we respond."

"It seems like it's been the last couple weeks here where we got off to a bad start on that road trip and it snowballed," said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who recorded his 500th NHL assist on Wednesday. "Now that we're home, we've got a big game [Friday]. 

"We're obviously not happy with the last game (6-3 loss to Rangers at home on Wednesday), but we've got to find a way to get out of it and turn the page. I think that's what it comes down to. It comes down to just being better. We know what we have to do. It's just a matter of being consistent at it throughout the course of the game and having a good start."

The Hawks were tied 1-1 with the Rangers after the second period on Wednesday before allowing five third-period goals.

"Well, I don't know," Keith said of the reason behind the collapse in the final frame. "It seemed like they got the one goal and we just got deflated. And again it kind of snowballed from there without much pushback. When we're always chasing – they got the first goal in the game too – and we always felt like we were kind of chasing the whole game. 

"For whatever reason we weren't able to mount much of a comeback. I mean, I think at some point you give the other team some credit. They have some big guys and they hang onto pucks; they don't throw pucks away. 

"They force you to earn the puck back and it didn't seem like there were too many odd-man rushes for us. So those little things that we talk about in our game, when we do those things we're a hard team play against. And when we don't, things like that happen."

Friday the Blackhawks face the Predators, just three points out of the second wild card spot and itching to get in the postseason mix.

"We've faced adversity at different points in the season and this is just another one of those times where we need to really get back together and play the style of game we know we can play and know we can win with," Hawks forward Alex DeBrincat said. "I think that's what we're focused on right now."

The trade deadline rumors and whispers aren't helping the Blackhawks.

"Try to let it go as much as possible," DeBrincat said of how players deal with possibility of them or a teammate leaving. "For us in here, there's not much we can do at this point. 

"We're just trying to go out there and win games; whatever happens, happens. They know what they're doing and for us, we're all together as a team right now, so play as a team and focus on winning.

Regardless of the situation the team is in and no matter who stays or goes, the Hawks need to feel good about themselves and re-establish a high level to play at before things go from bad to worse with the possibility of carrying over into next season.

"We've got to create our own optimism by how we play," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I think the feeling in the group is not as good because our performance wasn't good enough last game. Obviously you look at the standings and no one feels good about it. The way we can bring good feelings back is by being really good tonight for 60 minutes."

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: The team see change coming before the trade deadline

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: The team see change coming before the trade deadline

As the NHL trade deadline looms closer, the feeling of uncertainty has surrounded the team. In for host Pat Boyle, Slavko Bekovic, Charlie Roumeliotis, Scott King, and Nick Gismondi discuss the feeling around the team and what may lie ahead for the future of this Blackhawks team.

(1:55) - Locker room felt somber today
(7:00) - Concerns about the team not being prepared game to game
(13:20) - Potentially being traded is weighing on the players
(19:00) - Possibility this group stays together
(26:10) - Erik Gustafsson possibly being traded
(30:20) - Teams around the league looking to win now

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.