Penalties haunt Blackhawks in shootout loss to Blues


Penalties haunt Blackhawks in shootout loss to Blues

ST. LOUIS – In the matchup between the second- and third-place Central Division teams, special teams loomed large.

And while the Blackhawks will take the one point they did get, their shaky penalty kill left them frustrated and absent that other point.

Artemi Panarin tied the game late but Kevin Shattenkirk won it in a shootout as the St. Louis Blues beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks, thanks to that point, move back into first place in the Central Division. The Dallas Stars, Friday’s opponent, also has 88 points but the Blackhawks have two more regulation/overtime victories than the Stars.

The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead into the third period but gave up two power-play goals. Former Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer scored what was the go-ahead goal for the Blues at the time. The penalty kill’s issues, and the infractions that put the Blackhawks on them (too many men and holding), left coach Joel Quenneville frustrated.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

“I didn’t like it at all tonight,” Quenneville said of the kill. “I didn’t like the two penalties we took at the end, too.”

Jonathan Toews, who left briefly in the second period after colliding with a partially open door on the Blues’ bench – a hip flexor he said felt better as the game went on – said the Blackhawks need to shore things up on the kill.

“I think the majority of the game we played pretty well. We just need those timely penalty kills in the third and we didn’t get them,” said Toews, who assisted on Panarin’s late regulation goal. “We’ve got to be better. I think our focus has been there the last couple of games; I think our kill was really good against Detroit. It’s still something that we need to improve on big time.”

On the other side, the Blackhawks had their power-play chances too but could come up with just one on three opportunities. That included a lengthy power play when Ryan Reaves was given a five-minute charging and a game misconduct for his hit on Blackhawks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. Andrew Ladd redirected Teuvo Teravainen’s shot for a 1-0 lead. Outside of that one, though, the Blues’ league-leading penalty kill held off the Blackhawks’ league-leading power play.

Still, after Corey Crawford vacated the net late in regulation, Panarin forced overtime with his 25th goal of the season. After a 3-on-3 overtime in which both teams looked drained from thephysical contest, the Blackhawks and Blues traded a few shootout goals. After Shattenkirk scored his, Teuvo Teravainen missed to seal it for the Blues.

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“That was a tough shootout,” said Crawford, who stopped 28 of 30 in regulation and overtime. “It was a fast game and playoff-type game. Itseems like we’re playing a lot of those lately. We’re in a great position, had some tough luck there on a couple power-play goals but I thought we played really well. Had a lot of chances.”

The Blackhawks did have their chances, but it’s what they gave up on the other end, on a penalty kill that’s been so good for the past several years, that had them disappointed.

“I think for the most part we played pretty well with the lead and I think we can always expect that they’re going to come hard at us,” Toews said. “So knowing that, in a way it’s disappointing we couldn’t come up with a second point.”

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Rasmus Dahlin

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 181 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Is the clear-cut No. 1, pro ready prospect for the 2018 draft. He has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and the pace of a game, whether it's with or without the puck. He finds ways to contribute and get the job done in all situations."

NHL player comparable: Nicklas Lidstrom

Fit for Blackhawks:

There is zero chance the Blackhawks can snag Dahlin, because it's highly unlikely the Buffalo Sabres would consider moving out of the No. 1 spot, and even if they did it would require a king's ransom. But for the sake of this exercise, what would Dahlin do for the Blackhawks organization?

Well, he's a player who immediately slots into your Top 4 and has the potential to emerge as Chicago's best defenseman in the next year or two. We're seeing it in Boston with Charlie McAvoy, Philadelphia with Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, and Columbus with Zach Werenski and Seth Jones where these young defensemen are changing the directions of their franchise's.

That's what Dahlin would do for the Blackhawks, who are in desperate need of a young, impact blue liner. Now back to reality.