Woes Mount for Blackhawks in Shutout Loss to Blues

Unfortunately, the Blackhawks’ woes are mounting both on and off the ice.

They not only were shutout by a divisional rival in the St. Louis Blues, but they accumulated their third straight regulation loss. The Hawks are now one point away from being the worst team in the Western Conference. To make matters worse, Patrick Kane’s 15-game point streak was snapped.

Andrew Shaw was a late scratch, joining a long list of Blackhawk regulars who are currently injured in Duncan Keith, Dylan Strome, and Drake Caggiula. Robin Lehner also missed the game because of the flu.

Because of the injuries, the Hawks once again found themselves in salary cap trouble, since only Caggiula had been placed on long-term injury reserve. The Hawks were forced to skate only 11 forwards and 6 defensemen last night.

And lastly, assistant coach Mark Crawford was placed under investigation by the organization for his supposed conduct while coaching the Los Angeles Kings. Former player Sean Avery accused Crawford of kicking him in his behind mid-game after taking a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty. Crawford is the second coach associated with the Blackhawks to face scrutiny in recent weeks, joining former Rockford Icehogs and Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters. Peters recently resigned from Calgary after former Blackhawk prospect Akim Aliu accused Peters of calling him a racial slur while with Rockford.

All of these woes provided a perfect storm in which the Hawks would fail to overcome last night.

Mackenzie MacEachern would open the scoring for St. Louis after a routine dump-in by Vince Dunn took a fluky bounce off the back-boards. Hawks goalie Corey Crawford came out to try to play the puck, but it jumped over his stick and right to MacEachern to make it 1-0 Blues.

Blues forward Jaden Schwartz would add a power-play goal late in the first period after Patrick Kane was called for tripping. Schwartz was left untouched in front of the Hawks’ crease, easily tipping Alex Pietrangelo’s shot from the point past Crawford.

After a scoreless second period, Brayden Schenn would give the Blues a 3-0 lead midway through the third, capitalizing on a nifty spin-o-rama pass by Nathan Walker. Hawks forward Alex Debrincat had gotten a piece of the pass, but not enough to prevent it from reaching Schenn.

Tyler Bozak would finish the scoring after a horrific Olli Maatta turnover late in the third period.

The St. Louis Blues extended their current winning streak to four games. The defending Stanley Cup Champions lead both the Central Division and the Western Conference with 42 points, while the Blackhawks now struggle to remain relevant in even the wild-card race with 25 points.

For Jonathan Toews — who had played in his 900th NHL game — it was a night to forget.

“We weren’t crisp,” Toews said. “We weren’t executing. We weren’t doing those little things right. It makes everything tougher on all five guys when we’re not making those simple plays.”

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