Blackhawks’ Win Streak Ends with Shootout Loss to Arizona

After two straight wins which exceeded regulation, the Blackhawks’ winning streak ended with a shootout loss to Arizona last night. The Hawks are now 2-0-1 in their last three games, as they try to climb out of the Western Conference cellar.

Jonathan Toews continued his recent stretch of solid play by opening the scoring early in the game. After a nice rush through the neutral zone by Calvin de Haan, Toews was able to deflect de Haan’s backhand pass behind goalie Darcy Kuemper while being checked by defenseman Jason Demers. Toews would go on to record three points on the night, finishing with one goal and two assists. It was Toews’ first three-point game of the season.

Alex Debrincat would make it 2-0 on the power play after a fantastic saucer-pass from Patrick Kane. After a 12-game goal-less drought, Debrincat now has three goals in three straight games. It was also the third straight game in which the Blackhawks scored a power play goal.

Arizona would cut the lead in half midway through the first, with ex-Hawk Nick Schmaltz assisting on the goal. After a failed clearing attempt by Toews, Schmaltz began the play with a nice pass to Arizona forward Christian Dvorak. Dvorak then squeaked a shot past a sprawling Robin Lehner, finding eventual goal-scorer Christian Fischer on the doorstep.

Domik Kubalik would restore the Hawks’ two-goal lead late in the first period. After a faceoff win by Jonathan Toews, Kubalik deflected a slap shot from defenseman Connor Murphy, giving the Hawks a 3-1 lead heading into the second period.

Unfortunately, the Hawks’ struggle to play a full sixty-minute game would resurface from the second period onward. Arizona’s Conor Garland and Carl Soderberg both converted on Coyote power plays to tie the game 3-3. After Garland’s goal to make it 3-2, the game seemed to change when Blackhawk defenseman Dennis Gilbert was penalized a two-minute, five-minute, and 10-minute misconduct for instigating a fight with Jason Demers. Demers had just delivered a questionable hit on Alex Debrincat moments before. It was the second consecutive game in which Gilbert — who has been replacing ill defenseman Olli Maatta — dropped the gloves, fighting both Demers and New Jersey’s Wayne Simmonds one game prior. Although Gilbert easily won the fight against Demers, the momentum shifted for Arizona, as Gilbert’s prolonged absence strained the Hawks defensively.

In a scoreless third period, Hawks goalie Robin Lehner continued his superb season by absolutely robbing a wide-open Clayton Keller on the doorstep. In addition to the save-of-the-year candidate on Keller, Lehner also made an incredible save in overtime on Coyote defenseman Jakob Chychrun. Lehner was phenomenal all game, but shootouts would continue to be the goalie’s Achilles heel, as Nick Schmaltz and Conor Garland both capitalized to give the Coyotes the victory. Patrick Kane was the lone goal scorer in the shootout for Chicago.

This morning, the Blackhawks placed forward Andrew Shaw on long-term injured reserve, retroactive to November 30th. The designation means that Shaw will miss at least the next six games, since players listed on LTIR must sit for a minimum of 10 games. Duncan Keith is also on injured reserve retroactive to November 29th, but is eligible to return soon. Shaw is dealing with a concussion, as Keith is suffering from a groin injury. With Shaw and Keith out, the Blackhawks have recalled forward Matthew Highmore and defenseman Adam Boqvist.

The Blackhawks next embark on a three-game road trip beginning Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Arizona Coyotes, and the St. Louis Blues, respectively. Although they gained five out of six points their last three games, the Hawks have only managed to ascend one spot in the ultra-competitive West, leapfrogging the Anaheim Ducks. They are still four points out of the last wild-card spot, with four teams ahead of them. Including this mini road trip, the Blackhawks’ next seven games will all be against Western Conference teams currently above them in the standings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *