After taking a commanding three-goal lead with 16 minutes to play, the Blackhawks collapsed under pressure to lose their fourth consecutive game.
The Chicago Blackhawks allowed the final four goals of the game on Saturday night for a disheartening 4-3 loss to the divisional rival St. Louis Blues. St. Louis scored all four of their goals in less than 13 minutes in the third period.
While the Blackhawks held a 3-0 lead at one point in the contest, they didn’t exactly get off to the best start. It took the Hawks over eight minutes to record their first shot on goal, and they finished with just two through the first 20 minutes. Corey Crawford was the only reason the game remained scoreless at the end of the period.
“We found a way to survive and sometimes that’s what you have to do on the road.” coach Jeremy Colliton said when asked about the team’s effort in the first period.
The second period got off to a much better start for the Blackhawks, as it took just 19 seconds for Brandon Saad to find the back of the net to take a 1-0 lead. Blues defenseman Justin Faulk appeared to screen netminder Jordan Binnington, and Saad snuck a weak shot through for his ninth goal of the season.
Both teams traded powerplay opportunities back-and-forth for the remainder of the second period, but neither team was able to cash in. The Blackhawks had a couple of quality chances during a 5-on-3 powerplay, but Binnington stood tall in net for the Blues. Despite having a 1-0 lead, the Hawks were being outshot 27-11 by the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The third period was 20 minutes of action that no one could have predicted. Much like the second period, Saad tallied in the opening minute on a sweet pass from Toews to make it 2-0 Blackhawks. Toews made a terrific play to box out defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to create the passing lane for the goal. With the two assists, Toews now has seven points (3G, 4A) in the last seven games.
Just a few moments later, the Hawks added to their lead as Patrick Kane fooled Binnington with a wrist shot for his 15th goal of the year. Dylan Strome forced a turnover at the St. Louis blueline to generate the opportunity for Kane. For a couple of minutes there in the third period, the Blackhawks looked somewhat like a competitive hockey team.
Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, all would go to hell after Kane’s goal. Just 21 seconds after taking a 3-0 lead, Alex Nylander made a horrendous defensive-zone turnover to allow the Blues to get right back into the game. Nylander has struggled mightily as of late, and with just two assists in his last 20 games, a trip to Rockford could be looming. There has not been nearly enough consistency in Nylander’s game so far this season.
The Blues kept their foot on the gas pedal as the period went on, and eventually, the Blackhawks defense couldn’t hold up any longer. Bozak scored his second goal of the night at 13:08 thanks to a fantastic pass from Robert Thomas while falling to the ice. Toews lost a defensive-zone faceoff and got burned by Bozak backdoor on the play.
Twelve seconds later, the Blues managed to tie the game as Jacob de la Rose scored his first goal with the team to make it 3-3. Just like on Bozak’s second goal, Toews lost the faceoff and got beat in coverage to allow the scoring chance. Toews was 85% at the faceoff dot for the game, so it’s quite unfortunate that two of his three faceoff losses resulted in Blues’ goals.
With all the momentum favoring St. Louis, it felt like it was only a matter of time until the Hawks surrendered the lead. Well, that feeling turned out to be correct, as the Blues went up 4-3 at 17:34 after Faulk ripped a shot past Crawford’s glove. The Blackhawks bench seemed to be in shock after watching their four-goal lead disappear.
The Hawks put up a fight in the dwindling minutes with Crawford pulled, but ultimately their efforts came up short. They finished their three-game road trip 0-3-0 and were severely outplayed by each opponent. With Saturday’s loss to St. Louis, the Blackhawks are now 12-15-6 through 33 games on the season.
“When you don’t have the confidence of a bunch of wins behind you, yeah, that can happen,” Colliton said when asked if the meltdown was a product of the losing streak. “The only way we’re going to get out of it is by finding a way in those situations. We just kind of run around for no reason.”
The Blackhawks are right back in action on Sunday night against the 16-12-5 Minnesota Wild at the United Center. It will be the first of four meetings between these two teams this season. The game is slated for 6:00 p.m. CT and is scheduled to be on NHLN, NBCSCH, FS-N, and FS-WI.
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).