Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane yells at a referee after being called for tripping during the first period against the Blues. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)
After dropping both games of the home-and-home series to the Colorado Avalanche, the Chicago Blackhawks faced another tough divisional foe on Monday in the St. Louis Blues. The defending Stanley Cup champions came into the United Center with a 17-5-6 record and the most points in the Western Conference. Not to mention a 7-0-2 record in their last nine road games.
The Blackhawks were forced to play with just 11 forwards and six defensemen due to injuries and cap space. According to reports, no NHL team has dressed 17 skaters since the Kings did so against the Penguins in October of 2014.
Assistant coach Marc Crawford also missed the game as the Blackhawks announced that they will be conducting a thorough review of Crawford due to recent allegations made. In many ways, the Hawks were set up to fail on Monday night.
Blues goaltender Jake Allen made 38 saves, but most of those were from outside chances as the Blackhawks struggled to generate anything offensively for most of the contest. It was the first time they were shutout at home since Jan. 22, 2018, nearly two years ago.
Patrick Kane was held without a point for the first time since Oct. 29 in Nashville as his point streak came to an end at 15 games. Kane had 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) during the streak.
“It was a good run,” Kane said. “I think I kind of see the chances were fading the last few games and that maybe it was going to end here soon. I hadn’t really been generating as much as I want to.”
The Blues struck early at 2:34 in the first period as forward Mackenzie MacEachern scored his fourth goal of the season to make it 1-0. Defenseman Vince Dunn dumped the puck in the Blackhawks zone from center ice and it took a weird bounce to find a wide-open MacEachern in front of the net. Seabrook and de Haan were caught playing too far outside on the zone entry.
Later on in the opening period, Patrick Kane was whistled for tripping as he appeared to clip Jaden Schwartz. After watching the replay the officials undoubtedly made the incorrect call, but the Blues wound up with the powerplay regardless. Sure enough, Schwartz himself would cash in on the man advantage with a slick redirect to make it 2-0.
There wasn’t much open ice for either team in the first 20 minutes, and that remained true during the middle frame as well.
The Blackhawks received a powerplay just 21 seconds into the period but once again failed to convert. Dating back to Nov. 9 against Pittsburgh, the Hawks are just 4-for-34 on the powerplay in their last 12 games. They currently have the 27th-best conversion rate in the league at 13.4%.
Toward the end of the second period, forward Alex DeBrincat rang a wrist shot off the goal post and out. DeBrincat is currently riding a 12-game goal drought, but the 21-year-old forward does have nine assists during that span. The feeling is that the dam is going to break in one of the upcoming games for ‘The Cat’.
Brandon Saad created a couple of quality chances for the Blackhawks to get back in the game, but ultimately his efforts came up short. Saad has been one of the Hawks better forwards as of late with 11 points (5G, 6A) in his last 14 contests.
St. Louis once again found the back of the net at 8:56 of the third period to extend their lead to 3-0. Olli Maatta and Alex DeBrincat lost Brayden Schenn in transition, and the Blues made a beautiful passing play to put the game away.
To add insult to injury, Tyler Bozak scored at 18:11 to make the final score 4-0. Maatta made a horrendous outlet pass in the defensive zone and the puck ended up right on Bozak’s tape.
In the dwindling minutes of the third period, the United Center was filled with boos. Even chants of “Let’s go Blues” could be heard from the crowd. With the loss, the Blackhawks move to 10-12-5 on the season. They are a mere 1-5-1 in their last seven games.
“We played three terrible games. It’s definitely frustrating when you’re out there. We have to work through it, we have to be better.” said veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook during his post-game interview.
Things don’t get any easier for the Blackhawks as they head to Boston to take on the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins on Thursday night. Boston currently boasts a 19-3-5 record with an impeccable 11-0-4 mark at home. With Caggiula, Keith, Lehner, Shaw, and Strome all on the injury report, now is not the best time for the Hawks to take on both Stanley Cup teams in a span of just three days. Luckily, they will have two days off to recover and prepare for the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
The game is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET and is scheduled to be on ESPN+, NESN, and NBCSCH.
For more Blackhawks news and updates, follow the author (@JackBushman2) on Twitter. Make sure to check out the author’s podcast, Talkin’ Hawkey, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter (@TalkinHawkey).