Saturday night’s game in St. Louis clearly defined every frustrating part of the 2019-20 Blackhawks season.
The Hawks went into the barn of the defending Stanley Cup champions and an arch rival (pun intended) after getting their asses handed to them in the first period in Arizona. One would think, after giving up three goals in the opening 20 to the Coyotes, the Hawks would make an effort to come out of the gates well.
St. Louis out-shot the Blackhawks 13-2 in the opening 20 minutes.
Thankfully, the score remained tied at zero.
After surviving the first period, the Hawks struck quickly in the second. Brandon Saad sniped home his ninth of the season 19 seconds into the middle frame to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks were out-shot 14-9 in the second period but carried their one-goal lead to the third.
Chicago opened the third with a strong statement, just as they did in the second. Saad was set up by Jonathan Toews 30 seconds into the third period for his second of the night and tenth goal of the season.
Less than four minutes later Dylan Strome set up Patrick Kane and the suddenly surging Hawks were up 3-0.
Things actually felt pretty good for the first time in a while for Hawks fans. A three-goal lead on the road in St. Louis was stunning after the performance in Arizona. Certainly the Hawks would hang on, right?
Just as they did in Boston, a three-goal lead in the third period wasn’t enough. This time, an awful, terrible, inexcusable turnover by Alex Nylander wound up in the back of the net only 24 seconds after the Kane goal.
Nylander should have been done of the night after that turnover. He wasn’t. Jeremy Colliton continues to show little consistency with how and with whom he enforces any accountability. The shutout was over and the wheels had just started to fall off.
Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak teamed up to flip the script on the Hawks. Thomas set up Bozak for the Blues’ first and second goals. Bozak’s second goal came at 13:08. Jacob De La Rose tied the game 12 seconds later.
The three-goal lead was gone.
Thomas picked up his third assist of the third period when Justin Faulk gave the Blues a 4-3 lead with 2:26 left in regulation.
Chicago got a power play in the final two minutes but opted to pass the puck in a circle for most of the advantage. Nothing got done, even with a two-skater advantage with Corey Crawford on the bench, and the Blues walked away with a regulation win despite being down three early in the third period.
This game sucked to watch. The first period was brutal, but we’ve become accustomed to that, sadly. The second showed some promise and the early burst of offense in the third was encouraging. But blowing another big lead hurts. And the coaching staff continuing to do little/nothing about the same players consistently making the critical mistakes that turn a good situation into a dumpster fire has reached a breaking point.
In the box score, there were a few positives.
Toews has been pretty good lately, and he had a nice night in St. Louis. He dominated at the dot, winning 17 of 20 faceoffs with his two assists and three shots on net in 18:24.
Kane put three shots on net and scored the final goal of the night for Chicago in a forward-leading 20:52 on the ice.
Saad was credited with one blocked shot and one takeaway with two goals in 15:34. He’s been terrific almost this entire season.
Nylander skated 10:46 and, somehow, wasn’t credited with a giveaway.
Crawford stopped 34 of 38.
Connor Murphy had a solid night on the blue line. He led all Blackhawks with 22:30 on the ice and led the team with six blocked shots; Murphy also picked up three hits. Dennis Gilbert led the Hawks with five hits in 19:03.
Adam Boqvist skated only 14:56, the lowest ice time on the blue line, but Colliton send him out on the power play in the closing moments of the game.
The Hawks host Minnesota on Sunday night.