After getting their lunches handed to them in Arizona by the worst team in the NHL on Monday night, the safe way to open would be Shaun White winning gold.
REDEMPTION FOR SHAUN WHITE!
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 14, 2018
There you go, feelin’ good bout America.
Then the Hawks took the ice in Vegas against the best team in the Western Conference…
Coach Joel Quenneville threw the lines in the blender again. Erik Gustafsson took the place of Jordan Oesterle on the blue line. Tommy Wingels got bumped up to skating with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews. And Patrick Sharp and Ryan Hartman took the places of Anthony Duclair and Vinnie Hinostroza.
With all of that, if would figure that the Blackhawks would score a power play goal 2:10 into the game.
The Wingels goal came with helpers from Gustafsson and Alex DeBrincat and put Chicago up 1-0 early.
But Jeff Glass isn’t the diamond-in-the-rough story that Scott Darling was, and an ugly angle goal allowed to Ryan Carpenter less than three minutes later tied the game.
Chicago would then spend almost four straight minutes short-handed as Gustafsson served two minutes and then Duncan Keith sat four seconds after the conclusion of the Gustafsson minor. The Hawks killed both penalties, however.
The first period ended with both teams having 11 shots on net and one goal on the board. But Chicago would start the second period with Patrick Kane in the box for 1:16 after he hooked Jonathan Marchessault.
For Vegas, forward James Neal blocked a shot and needed assistance to get to the bench late in the first period. He did not return to the bench for the second.
The Hawks killed the remaining time on the Kane penalty and then Patrick Sharp was awarded a penalty shot three minutes into the second period. He failed to convert, however, and on we went in a 1-1 game.
Fleury denies the penalty shot attempt. ? pic.twitter.com/Lg7goCYdvP
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 14, 2018
However, the Hawks would get the lead back at 6:37 when Alex DeBrincat beat Marc-Andre Fleury for his 21st of the season.
Sharp made up for the whiffed penalty shot by setting up DeBrincat. Ryan Hartman also picked up an assist on the goal.
Alex DeBrincat scores his 21st of 2017-18. That ties Darcy Rota (1971-72) & Patrick Kane (2007-08) for the 5th most in a season by a @NHLBlackhawks rookie 20 or younger
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) February 14, 2018
Neal returned to the Vegas bench in the middle of the period as the Knights got a fourth power play, this time with Brent Seabrook headed to the box. Duncan Keith saved a goal, barely keeping a puck from crossing the line, and the Hawks were able to kill yet another Vegas advantage.
Wingels was playing a fantastic game, but he went to the box with 36 seconds left in the second period.
As the third period began, however, the Hawks weren’t able to kill the rest of the Wingels penalty. Brad Hunt tied the game at two late in the advantage. Chicago successfully killed their first four penalties of the night, but when you continue to play short-handed the odds aren’t in your favor. The fifth Knights power play cost them.
Quickly after the Hunt goal, David Perron reminded Hawks fans that you can take the man out of St. Louis but you can’t take the St. Louis out of the man. He went to the box for cross-checking and Sharp served a matching minor. The two sides would skate 4-on-4 only 2:26 into the third period with the score tied.
It didn’t take long for the Knights to grab the lead. Reilly Smith scored during the 4-on-4 and suddenly the Hawks were chasing – again.
Perron came out of the box and immediately scored to give Vegas a 4-2 lead.
And in the span of 4:54 to open the third period, what had been a 2-1 Blackhawks lead was now a two-goal deficit.
Oh, and it only took Vegas three shots to score their three goals.
Which perfectly sums up most of this season for the Hawks. Even when you look like you’ve got it together, all it takes is a three or four minute lapse to get absolutely buried.
Quenneville pulled Glass for the extra attacked with 3:07 left in regulation. That didn’t matter. The only goal scored was by Vegas’ Tomas Nosek into the empty cage to make the score 5-2.
The Hawks lost their seventh straight. At least this time it was relatively close and to a good team…