Last night was the third consecutive game in which the Blackhawks played beyond regulation, but it shouldn’t have been.
With the score knotted at 1-1 and a delayed penalty on Boston’s Torey Krug, Drake Caggiula seemingly scored the go-ahead tally with 1:05 seconds remaining in the third — only for the goal to be emphatically waved off by referee Peter MacDougal due to a prematurely blown whistle. The refs would immediately admit to both coach Jeremy Colliton and captain Jonathan Toews that they had simply made an error on the play.
“They made a mistake, blew the whistle,” Colliton said. “Not much you can say after that. It’s done.”
After a failed Blackhawks’ power play — which included a 55 second 4-on-3 power play in overtime — Boston would take full advantage of the blunder, with defenseman Charlie McAvoy deflecting the puck past Lehner for the 2-1 victory. The officiating folly could not have come at a worse time for the Hawks, when every point is critical in the highly competitive playoff race in the Western Conference.
“It’s tough,” Colliton said. “It’s disappointing. But there will be another night where we come out on the other end of it. These things have a way of evening out. But it’s just disappointing because it would’ve been a big two points for our team.”
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 6, 2020
Adding insult to injury was the departure of rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist, who left the game in the second period after being hit by Boston’s David Krejci. Krejci was assessed a minor for boarding on the play.
Although the blown call loomed large on the outcome of the game, the Blackhawks’ lackluster start could just as easily be to blame. Just as they had in their 3-2 overtime loss against Minnesota the night before, the Hawks failed to find their legs until the later stages of the contest.
“I thought we got better as the game went on,” Colliton said. “Third period was probably our best period. Once we started shooting some more pucks, I think it looked a little better for us. I think that’s what was missing in the first.”
In spite of the Blackhawks’ slow start, Alex Debrincat opened the scoring early in the second period, breaking his five-game goalless drought while on the power play. Rookie Kirby Dach had taken the puck hard to the net, which created a rebound for Debrincat. The assist extended Dach’s current point streak to five games, as the first-year center continues to find his groove in the NHL.
The Hawks’ lead evaporated six minutes later after a strong effort along the back-boards by Boston’s Sean Kuraly. After shielding the puck from Duncan Keith, Kuraly wrapped around the Hawks’ net, flinging the puck past goalie Robin Lehner for the 1-1 tie. As has been the case all season, the Blackhawks once again relied on their goaltending to keep them in the game, with Lehner stopping 38 of 40 shots.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 6, 2020
With veterans Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan both lost for the year, the injury to Adam Boqvist could potentially exacerbate an already decimated Hawks’ blue line. Luckily, coach Colliton said post-game that the injury isn’t believed to be serious. Either way, Boqvist’s injury may allow the Hawks to get their first look at newly acquired defenseman Nick Seeler, who had been claimed off waivers from Minnesota on Monday by Hawks general manager Stan Bowman.
In light of last night’s overtime loss, the Blackhawks continue to knock on the playoffs’ doorstep. With 58 points, the Hawks are currently six points behind Colorado for the final spot in the Central Division; and just two and three points behind the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes in the Wild Card race, respectively. Only two more home games are scheduled for the Blackhawks in the month of February; with this Sunday marking a five-game Canadian road trip. The trip will begin and end against the Winnipeg Jets, who trail the Hawks by only one point in the standings.