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THREE THINGS: Empty Feeling, Turning Point and Kirby's Crunch

Three takeaways from Chicago's 3-0 loss to Vancouver on Wednesday night

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

Playing the third of a critical five-game road trip, the Blackhawks dominated much of the play but came up on the losing end of a 3-0 decision to the Canucks on Wednesday night in Vancouver.

The Blackhawks outshot the Canucks by a wide margin and but couldn't solve Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who made 49 saves to steal the victory.

The loss was the Blackhawks' fifth in a row and they again failed to earn much-needed points in the Western Conference postseason race.

"I thought we played pretty well," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters in Vancouver. "Obviously, it's tough to go in there after that kind of effort and another loss but ultimately the only way we're going to get wins is by playing to a similar level. It kind of reinforces the lost opportunity of the last couple of games when we weren't at that level. Now all of a sudden we play well and we don't get the win and we're on a little bit of a slide."

Brandon Sutter had a goal and two assists and Bo Horvat and Adam Gaudette also scored for the Canucks to spoil a solid effort by Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (17 saves).

The Blackhawks allowed a season-low 20 shots on goal but dropped to 25-24-8 on the season.

Video: CHI Recap: Blackhawks can't solve Markstrom in loss

Here are three takeaways from the Blackhawks' loss:

EMPTY FEELING

The Blackhawks sent a barrage of pucks at Markstrom but the 30-year-old stopped everything sent his way to record his second shutout of the season and fifth of his career.

The 49 shots were a season high by the Blackhawks and according to the NHL, Markstrom became the first goaltender in Canucks history to register multiple 40-save shutouts in a single season.

"Give their goaltender credit and their D-men were good around the net clearing second chances too," Toews told reporters. "Something we can do a little bit better is get numbers at the net. We know the shots are coming and (we can) find ways to ge those ugly goals. That's the way you need to score this time of year."

The Blackhawks had 33 shots after the first two periods, the first time this season they had 30-plus shots through two periods. 

Markstrom was especially strong while the Canucks were shorthanded, making 10 saves during five Blackhawks power plays.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't find ways to find the back of the net and open the game up a little bit, especially with the way we were playing," Toews said. "All four lines were engaged."

 

TURNING POINT

The Blackhawks dominated play during the opening period but fell behind during a sequence that saw them have a goal disallowed and a failed coach's challenge that resulted in a Vancouver power play.

While holding a 15-5 shot advantage, the Blackhawks appeared to take the lead when Patrick Kane sent the puck into the back of the net but the goal was waved off because Brandon Saad was in the crease and officials determined the winger interfered with Markstrom.

Colliton challenged the goaltender interference call, arguing that Horvat pushed Saad into the crease and the Blackhawks winger didn't prohibit Markstrom from making the stop, but the league reviewed it and upheld the call.

"We felt like in the moment that Saad didn't prevent him from making the save," Colliton told reporters. "I felt like we had a decent chance of getting a goal. I feel pretty good about our penalty kill so it was worth taking a shot. Obviously, it didn't work out but that's the way it is."

Here is the official ruling by the league:

"Video review confirmed Chicago's Brandon Saad entered the crease on his own and prevented Jacob Markstrom from playing his position in the crease."

The failed challenge resulted in a delay-of-game penalty and the Canucks cashed in on the power play off a pretty passing play that Horvat finished with a one-timer from the slot.

The Blackhawks finished the period with a 17-7 shot advantage but trailed in the game 1-0 and never caught the Canucks.

 

KIRBY'S CRUNCH

The game featured two fights and plenty of big hits, none bigger than the one Blackhawks rookie Kirby Dach laid on Canucks winger Antoine Roussel midway through the second period. Dach crunched Roussel into the boards with a hard but clean hit, leaving the Canucks veteran in pain as he skated to the bench.

Playing in his 51st career game, the 19-year-old Dach has begun to take advantage of his size to not only deliver hits but to bounce off ones dished out on him.

"I feel a little bit more into the game and I'm able to take those hits and roll off guys and create plays that way," Dach said. "Obviously, at the same time you can't really back down because then guys are just going to try to keep coming at you. You have to give it back. It's something I've always done in my career."

At 6-4, 175, Dach has also begun to win his share of puck battles along the boards, leading to strong play at both ends of the ice.

"You always hear growing up just how much bigger and stronger and faster these guys are but you don't really know what to expect until you jump into it," Dach said. "It was a learning experience for me to go through and I obviously got knocked off the puck a couple of times and lost a couple of battles but as a competitor I want to win those battles and help my team out.

"It's just a strength thing for me," Dach added. "It's just kind of getting used to the strength of the older guys in this league and how strong they are with their sticks and how tough they are to compete with in battles. It's a learning curve for me and I think I've adapted well. It helps with the size of my body in those battles but it's a whole other thing to add strength to that."

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