Duncan Keith

Four takeaways: Frustration boils over in Blackhawks loss to Predators

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AP

Four takeaways: Frustration boils over in Blackhawks loss to Predators

NASHVILLE — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday:

1. A forgettable start

For the sixth straight game, the Blackhawks allowed the first goal — at the 2:11 mark. And it didn't stop there. The Predators scored two more, minutes later within a 39-second span to go up 3-0 in only 4:11 of action. 

What made it even more difficult to swallow is that the Predators were without several key offensive players, including their leading scorer in Filip Forsberg. The Blackhawks had an opportunity to take advantage of a depleted Nashville team, but the Predators came out hungrier after getting shut out two nights before and it showed. The Predators lead the NHL with 14 wins when scoring first.

"I feel like we’re talking about it, we’re aware, we’re trying to have better starts," Jonathan Toews said. "I don’t know how to explain that one tonight. I don’t know if it’s lack of effort again or if it’s just mistakes that we can’t be making, but we seem to correct the course the rest of the game. I think it’s a bunch of different things. So we’re trying to figure it out and continue to try our best to have better starts. It’s clearly what’s hurting us lately."

2. Frustration boils over for Duncan Keith

After falling behind 3-0, frustration really boiled over for the Blackhawks. 

Mikka Salomaki delivered a big hit on Keith, who didn't like it and chaos ensued. To sum it up, Keith racked up 29 penalty minutes (roughing, instigator, fighting, misconduct and game misconduct) while Alex DeBrincat also compiled seven penalty minutes (five for fighting and two for roughing) by coming to the defense of his teammate.

Nobody takes losses harder than Keith, who has been ejected twice this season. But in this case, it was evident that it was built-up frustration and he took it out on the Predators, showing saw raw emotion that the Blackhawks need.

"I just thought it was a little bit from behind," Keith said. "I didn't see the hit coming. It didn't hurt, but at the end of the day we're down 3-0 not even five minutes into the game. Enough's enough.

"At some point, some sort of response was needed. Nice to see DeBrincat get in there; I don't expect that but I'll remember that."

3. Seven-minute kill

After sorting out the messy scuffle, the Predators were awarded a seven-minute power play and even had a 5-on-3 opportunity in the middle of it. It had the potential to turn into a disaster for the Blackhawks, who were already trailing 3-0 and would have to kill it off without one of their best defenders in Keith.

Ironically, it was the Blackhawks that capitalized first when Brandon Saad made a sensational one-man effort by muscling his way past a Predators defender and crashing hard to the net for a shorthanded goal to make it 3-1. It didn't last long, as the Predators got it back 1:15 later which ended the power play. But the response, in a way, galvanized the group.

"That's the passion we need as a team in a hole," Saad said. "You see after that we get a pretty good kill for the most part. I know we gave up one, but it sparked us a little bit and we played with more energy throughout the game. We got to have that throughout the whole 60 minutes, though."

4. All in

The Blackhawks felt like they were making progress under Colliton in the first couple weeks. And then the Vegas game happened, where they lost 8-3 because their effort level wasn't there. Those are the types of losses that are inexcusable.

The Blackhawks are trying to change that or else they'll never be able to dig themselves out of this hole.

"If everyone's not going, you make it tough on yourself," Colliton said. "Especially the way we want to play, we need all give guys on the ice together. We attack together. We defend together. Be willing to do the boring work, be willing to do the thankful stuff. The thing is, if you do it for them, they'll do it for you and everyone gets more in the end. That's what we got to get to. We're not there. But there's no reason why we can't. It's not an ability thing. It's just a will thing. Wasted enough time, let's go now."

Four takeaways: Early mistakes doom Blackhawks as road woes continue in Washington

Four takeaways: Early mistakes doom Blackhawks as road woes continue in Washington

WASHINGTON — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Wednesday:

1. Early mistakes

A lot happened before the first TV timeout. And it wasn't great for the Blackhawks. 

Tom Wilson scored 54 seconds into the game to put the Capitals up 1-0. The Blackhawks had a chance to respond 1:16 later with a power play opportunity, but failed to record a shot on goal during it.

The Capitals were awarded a power play shortly after that and cashed in at the very end of it, with Andre Burakovsky burying a beautiful backhand pass by Jakub Vrana to make it 2-0 at 6:34.

"We did a lot of good things," Duncan Keith said. "We played hard. We can be a little bit better with the puck. Maybe a little bit more patient at times and more crisp, cleaner with it and have guys going to the net. That's a step for sure. They got a good team over there and they got skill that can capitalize on chances if you give them up. We didn't give up a whole lot. But when we did they capitalized."

2. Playing catch-up

After getting outshot 8-0, the Blackhawks pushed back by recording 14 of the next 15 shots on goal. But they had nothing to show for it. Instead, the Capitals got the next goal to go up 3-0 near the midway mark of the second period.

There was another push by the Blackhawks after Brandon Saad made it 3-1 at 11:37 and Erik Gustafsson cut the deficit to 3-2 at 5:23 of the third period. But the Capitals answered 1:49 later when Devante Smith-Pelly scored to make it 4-2.

"That's part of hockey," Saad said. "We don't want to give up goals that quickly, but at the end of the day when it happens, just keep fighting and you've got to play a full 60 minutes regardless."

3. Saad-Toews-Kane line shines

The Blackhawks are overloading one line by putting Saad with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and they were arguably the best trio of any team despite the end result. They drove possession, created scoring chances, and cashed in when Saad made a terrific individual effort to put the Blackhawks on the board.

Saad has scored in three straight, Kane has picked up at least a point in every game except four, and Toews stretched his point streak to five games. All of them saw by far the most ice time of any team forwards: Kane (24:36), Toews (23:47), Saad (22:33).

"They were really good," Colliton said. "They’re skating well and working hard away from the puck. Of course we want them to score more, but they’re playing well and that’s why I played them so much. Because they looked fresh and it looked like they could get us back in the game at any point and that’s what we’re looking for from them.

"I was trying not to," Colliton continued regarding the trio's heavy ice time. "But I looked after the second period and they’re all around 14-15 minutes. I’m trying not to play them, but I felt like we could come back. We had to give it a shot."

4. Road struggles continue

The Blackhawks have been making progress as of late by picking up at least a point in four straight games going into Wednesday. But they're still struggling to pick up wins on the road, with their last victory coming Oct. 20 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That was more than a month ago.

With this loss, the Blackhawks are 0-6-1 in their past seven road games after starting the season 2-0-1. That's not great news when you look at the schedule as Wednesday marked the first of a stretch where they will play seven of the next nine on the road.

The Blackhawks also extended their losing streak in Washington to eight games, having last won in our nation's capital on Jan. 10, 2006 in a 4-3 overtime victory.

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues at the United Center on Saturday night:

1. Special night for Duncan Keith — and Brent Seabrook

The Blackhawks celebrated Keith's 1,000-game milestone in the perfect way. Every player wore a No. 2 jersey during warmups, his family was on the ice for the pregame ceremony, and Patrick Sharp made an appearance to present Keith with a silver stick. Seabrook was also paired with Keith among the starters, a great touch by Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff.

But it was also a historic day for Keith's partner and close friend Seabrook, who became the franchise leader in games played by a defenseman, surpassing Bob Murray who previously held that mark at 1,008. It's only fitting Keith and Seabrook shared that moment together.

"We've been riding shotgun together for our whole careers," Keith said. "I couldn't imagine my career, my 1,000 games without him and all the experiences and memories that I've had winning and even losing, and the fun times we've had off the ice. I owe a lot of my success, and I think the team does as well, to Brent and what he means to the team and what he brings to our friendship and as a teammate."

To put a bow on the game, Keith had a vintage Keith moment on the game-tying goal in the third period when he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone on his backhand, then fed Toews a dart leading him into the offensive zone that set up DeBrincat's goal. 

2. Alex DeBrincat's torrid start

The Blackhawks continued to get contributions from their top players such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom extended their point streaks to five games to open the season. But DeBrincat has propelled himself into that conversation as a top player on this team.

He had a multi-goal effort for the second straight game, upping his goal total on the season to a team-leading six. His overtime winner is the first of his NHL career in that fashion.

DeBrincat didn't score his sixth goal until Nov. 12 last season, which was the 18th game. And he still finished with 28. While it's hard to envision him continuing to score at more than a goal-per-game pace, it's not hard to see him continuing to be one of the best players on the ice and generating offense and scoring chances on a nightly basis.

"I think I'm getting pretty lucky right now," DeBrincat said. "I'm playing with [Toews] and [Dominik] Kahun, they're making great plays and getting me the puck. It's pretty easy when you have those guys as your linemates. Even on that last goal, [Erik Gustafsson] made a great pass backdoor to me. Pretty easy tap in."

3. Squandering another two-goal lead

The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead for the third straight game. And they squandered it for the third straight game, in large part because they committed five straight penalties in the second and third periods.

It's no longer a blip at this point and is becoming an alarming trend, even though the Blackhawks have come back to force overtime in each of those three games. That will be something the Blackhawks work on all season long.

But Quenneville would have liked to have seen the Blackhawks keep their foot on the gas pedal and cash in on their opportunities to make it a 3-0 game.

"Score the third goal," he said. "I loved the way we were playing. We had a lot of good things going. Eventually they’re going to get chances, get opportunities. But we had some great chances to get it to three. It was one of those nights, every game is kind of different how the leads changed."

4. Brotherly love

For the first time in the NHL, the Schmaltz brothers finally got their chance to go up against each other at the highest level. There had been a handful of other opportunities in the past, but it never lined up for a variety of reasons. 

They didn't see much of each other while on the ice — they were on together for only 1:30 of the game — but Nick did commit a penalty that led to Jordan assisting on the Blues' first goal on a delayed call. 

The best battles between Jordan, who turned 25 on Oct. 8, and Nick, 22, came when they were kids.

"We had a little roller rink downstairs in our house growing up," Nick said. "It would be me vs. my sister (Kylie) and my brother. Those were probably the best battles. Someone would usually come up crying or high-stick or puck to the face or something like that. A lot of good memories. Looking back at it, it was awesome to have that and work on each other’s game and push each other to get better."