Blackhawks’ Winning Streak Ends in Vancouver Barn Burner

The Blackhawks’ three-game winning streak came to an abrupt end last night against the Vancouver Canucks. Both teams entered the contest on streaks, with Vancouver winning their sixth game in a row.

J.T. Miller would open the scoring for Vancouver by deflecting a shot from Bo Horvat’s stick past goalie Robin Lehner. The goal came after the Blackhawks were assessed a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty, just as Vancouver’s power play had expired.

Connor Murphy would tie the game late in the first period after jumping on a loose puck and wristing a shot past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom.

With the game tied 1-1, a see-saw battle would ensue entering period two. Tanner Pearson regained the lead for Vancouver after yet another deflection past Lehner, before David Kampf scored his sixth goal of the season to knot it 2-2.

Patrick Kane would give the Hawks their first lead of the game on the power play after blasting a one-timer from rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist. Less than two minutes later, captain Jonathan Toews scored his 10th goal of the year with a fluky bounce after his centering attempt deflected off the backside of Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes.

With the Hawks up 4-2, the complexion of the game changed midway through the period after Hawk forward Zack Smith committed a delay-of-game penalty while trying to clear the puck. That allowed Vancouver’s red-hot power play to take the ice and Quinn Hughes to avenge the Toews’ goal, which had deflected off him earlier. In similar fashion, center Elias Pettersson would tie the game soon after, with his shot deflecting off Blackhawk Eric Gustafsson.

The fluky goals would continue midway through the third period after Bo Horvat’s centering attempt deflected off Lehner’s pad and then off Hawk defenseman Dennis Gilbert’s skate to make it 5-4. Patrick Kane tied the game once again for the Blackhawks by scoring his second goal of the game, but Adam Gaudette would answer soon after, snapping a shot past Lehner’s glove-side. Like Kane, Horvat would also finish the game with two goals, adding an empty-net goal with nine seconds remaining to give Vancouver the 7-5 victory.

“I don’t know what to say, it was a really weird game,” Lehner said. “I thought we deserved better. What was it, two tips, two off our own bodies? It just felt like everything they threw to the net went their way and it’s tough because I felt like I made a lot of really good saves. I felt good today and I let in six goals, so it’s frustrating.”

Last night was assistant coach Marc Crawford’s first game back behind the Blackhawks’ bench since being reinstated by the organization. Crawford had been suspended since mid-December after allegations of abuse had surfaced by multiple ex-players he had coached, including Sean Avery, Harold Druken, Patrick O’Sullivan, and Brent Sopel.

“This is an ongoing process and as I said in my statement, I’m all about making sure that I do the right thing and that I listened and that I understand,” Crawford said. “I think that’s really what I hope comes from this β€” that I understand how anybody is feeling, how any of those players are feeling and in the end, if that happens, then I hopefully can become better for it, they become better for it and hopefully in the long run the game becomes better for it.”

The Blackhawks will look for their first win of the new year this Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings, which will mark the first of a four-game home stand. Other than Detroit, this upcoming home stand will include all Western Conference opponents in the Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, and Anaheim Ducks. The Hawks currently sit five points ahead and below of last-place Anaheim and Calgary, respectively. Chicago is also currently tied with Nashville, although Nashville has three games in hand.

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