It was a roller coaster kind of night for Robin Lehner and the Blackhawks.
The veteran goaltender made a miraculous save midway through the third period to keep the Blackhawks in the game but came up short in the shootout as the Coyotes skated to a 4-3 victory Sunday night at the United Center.
Lehner made 44 saves - including stoning Clayton Keller with a glove save off two-pad stack in the third - before Conor Garland scored the game-winner in a shootout. The Blackhawks had their two-game win streak snapped but extended their point streak to three and now stand at 12-12-6 on the season.
Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists while Dominik Kubalik and Alex DeBrincat also scored for the Blackhawks, who led 3-1 after one period.
"We need to figure out how to play with the lead," said DeBrincat, who now has goals in three consecutive games. "They had some good pressure there but we have to keep it out of our net and obviously stay out of the box, too. Two of their goals came on power plays so if we had stayed out of the box I think we win that in regulation."
The Blackhawks had a chance to win it in overtime when they had a power play, but couldn't convert.
"I feel like those have to be automatic," Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan said. "But you have to give the other team credit, too, sometimes. They had some good lanes and didn't really give up too many Grade A (chances). Maybe we have to shoot a little bit more or find a way to put a puck on net. Sometimes simple is a good thing. It's all good. We got a point."
Carl Soderberg had a goal and an assist and Christian Fischer and Garland also scored in regulation to provide the offense for Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper (26 saves).
"We were in a pretty good spot at home 3-1 and (I was) just disappointed with what came after," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "So, not a very good performance."
Here are three takeways from the Blackhawks' loss:
GETTING THE POINT
The Blackhawks very likely wouldn't have secured one point had it not been for Lehner's highlight-reel save on Keller. The Coyotes center found himself all alone in front of Lehner and unleashed a one-timer that the veteran netminder snagged with his glove for a Save Of The Year candidate.
"You're just trying to save the puck," Lehner said. "I just remember I was a little bit behind the play and I knew (Keller) was back door and I just tried to get something there. It's instincts and a little bit of luck. Honestly, I just wanted to win (Sunday night)."
The Coyotes out shot the Blackhawks in all three periods of regulation and took advantage of six power-play opportunities, scoring twice with a man advantage.
"I thought we gave up a little bit too much (Sunday) by not sticking in our structure," Lehner said. "With a team like this, it's not really about the amount of shots or shot attempts they have. They're such a cycling team, so they just had so much zone time, and that takes the energy out of our 'D' and out of me a little bit."
Lehner continued to struggled in shootouts, allowing scores on both Coyotes attempts to suffer the loss.
"It is what it is," Lehner said. "I'm positive about it, just not very good at it, so I've got to keep getting better, keep working at it and maybe keep finding another way."
Though it led to the tying goal, rookie Dennis Gilbert drew the admiration of teammates when he confronted Jason Demers after the Coyotes defenseman crunched DeBrincat along the boards early in the second period. Gilbert was assessed a two-minute instigator penalty along with five minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.
"It's nice he's sticking up for me," DeBrincat said. "I like to see that. I think it really shows he cares for the team and that he's going to go out there and battle for us every day."
Soderberg evened the game at 3-3 during the Coyotes' ensuing power play and after a scoreless third and overtime, the game went to a shootout.
Said de Haan of Gilbert's actions after DeBrincat was drilled: "Alex's head went right off the boards. I don't know how (the referees) didn't call that one. But good on Dennis to step up. Sometimes it takes a big set of cojones to do that. He tried to get a spark for us and I think trying to stick up for your teammates is still part of the game, especially on a hit like that. Kudos to him. I think it was a key time in the game for us and he tried to turn the tables for us."
It actually turned the tables for the Coyotes and afterward Colliton said it's a good play by Gilbert "if we kill (the penalty).
"And I think sends a good message to the rest of the players that we're in this together and we're going to take care of each other, but I would have liked us to react better the rest of the game after that and that's what we should do," Colliton added.
Dylan Sikura had himself a weekend. The winger played games Friday and Saturday with Rockford of the AHL and found himself in the lineup for the Blackhawks against the Coyotes after being officially recalled Sunday morning. Sikura, who swapped places with Anton Wedin, got the word late Saturday night and drove to Chicago following the IceHogs' 5-2 loss to the Admirals.
The recall marked Sikura's first stint with the Blackhawks this season after appearing in 33 games with them during the 2018-19 campaign.
"I think this time around (I want to) just prove that I can play, I can stay, be an everyday kind of guy up here," Sikura said. "There were times last year toward the end of the year where I was proving myself a little bit and I'm excited to get a fresh start and another chance here."
The 24-year-old also hopes to keep the offense going. Sikura led the IceHogs with nine goals and also had seven assists. Against the Coyotes, Sikura had two shots on goal in 9:58 of ice time.
He said that since he last played with the Blackhawks he's improved "in all aspects" of his game.
"I think you feel more comfortable and you know what's expected of you," Sikura said. "System-wise it's pretty similar to Rockford, maybe a few changes. It's an easy to fix with a couple videos but I think just know what's expected of you and what kind of game that they want you to play and hopefully try to model that as well as you can."