The Blackhawks were poised to end their three-game road trip in style when disaster struck.
The Blues roared back in the third period to stun the Blackhawks 4-3 on Saturday night at the Enterprise Center. The Blackhawks led 3-0 in the third on two goals by Brandon Saad and another by Patrick Kane when the Blues mounted a comeback and scored four unanswered-two by Tyler Bozak-to steal the victory.
The loss was the Blackhawks' fourth in a row, including all three games of the road trip.
"For most of the game we played the type of road game that you have to to survive in a rink like this against a team like that," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I think we showed some growth there for a lot of the game and then it all kind of fell away under pressure. That's disappointing and unacceptable. We have to find a way to under pressure do the right thing every time and not put ourselves in a position where we give up those huge opportunities when the game is on the line. Obviously, no one is happy."
Corey Crawford made 34 saves but suffered the loss. As the Blackhawks dropped to 12-15-6 on the season. Jordan Binnington (19 saves) earned the win for the Blues.
Here are three takeways from the Blackhawks' loss:
Crawford was strong all game and appeared headed toward a shutout of the defending Stanley Cup champions when the Blackhawks broke down defensively in front of him.
Veteran leaders Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews took responsibility for their parts in the Blues comeback, though an Alex Nylander turnover led to the Blues' first goal by Bozak.
"'Crow' was huge for us all night and I thought really kept us in the game the whole game and I think we let him down," Seabrook said. "We have to be better in that situation. I know I'm on there for two (goals against), the second (Bozak) and third one (Jacob de la Rose). It's a critical part of the game and I have to be better in those moments."
Said Toews: "It sucks to blow that one with the lead that we had but there are situations where we have to get pucks out. I lost my check a few times. Those guys can make plays when you turn the puck over and you lose your checks."
MAN IN MOTION
Kane's snapped his goal-scoring drought at six games when he wired a wrist shot from the high slot past Binnington early in the third period. It marked the first time Kane found the back of the net since scoring against the Avalanche on Nov. 30 in Denver.
Despite getting and creating chances this month-even if the puck wasn't going in-Kane said his game "could be a lot better, to be honest with you. There's definitely room to improve. I feel like I can play better and help the team get better results. I'm just trying to work on that."
That work includes moving toward the puck.
"For me, it's like I'm a better player when I'm in motion instead of standing still and waiting around for it," Kane said. "Sometimes, you just have to go get the puck. Sometimes, you start thinking too much, too and you start maybe over-working. I'm at my best when I'm kind of playing smooth, slowing down the game, making a lot of plays and have the puck a lot. Those are some keys that I have to get back to."
How does Kane work on areas he believes need to be tweaked?
"There are different ways to prepare," he said. "You can watch video, you can talk to coaches and different people and you can talk to linemates about it. It's just trying to be as prepared as possible so when you go on the ice it's like second nature to trust your instincts."
Kirby Dach has mixed emotions about skipping the World Junior Championship later this month in the Czech Republic. The rookie would have been an enticing candidate for Team Canada's roster but Dach will instead remain with the Blackhawks.
"The NHL is the best league in the world and I want to be here helping the team win each and every night," Dach said. "At the same time, it's a huge honor to wear that maple leaf across your chest. To win a gold medal for your country is pretty special and spectacular."
Dach got to experience that when he helped Canada capture gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2018. He called winning that tournament "a pretty cool feeling" but wasn't setting his sights on Worlds.
"I haven't really been focused on it," Dach said. "I'm more so focused on staying here and playing my best each and every night."
Colliton said Dach has elevated his play of late and will be a valuable asset to the Blackhawks' lineup.
"It was an opportunity that he had so it was discussed but he's playing really well-he's getting better and better," Colliton said. "His minutes are going up steadily and there's an opportunity for more if he continues to improve. We didn't really want to lose that momentum."