When the dust settled on the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Wednesday night, there was plenty of head scratching from fans and players alike at the United Center.
The Blackhawks thought they had scored late in regulation to take the lead but Drake Caggiula's apparent goal was waved off by officials, sending a cascade of boos from fans. Not long after, the game went to overtime where Charlie McAvoy ended it for the Bruins.
Alex DeBrincat scored and Robin Lehner was stellar in goal with 38 saves but the Blackhawks fell in overtime for the second night in a row and dropped to 25-21-8 on the season.
"All in all, that's one of the best teams in the league there and we stuck with it, we hung with them and it could have easily been us that had the win (Wednesday night)," Lehner said. "There's definitely some growth."
The Bruins, who also got a goal from Sean Kuraly, won their fifth consecutive to improve to 33-10-12.
"I thought we got better as the game went on," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We went toe-to-toe with them in the third and easily could have come out with two points. Robin made some big saves to keep us in it earlier."
Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist left the game in the second period with a right shoulder injury and did not return.
"I don't think it's anything super serious but we'll know more in the next day or so," Colliton said.
Here are three takeaways from the Blackhawks' loss:
For a brief moment, the Blackhawks thought they had taken a late 2-1 lead when Caggiula raced into the offensive zone shorthanded and blasted a shot past Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak. With "Chelsea Dagger" blaring and the Blackhawks celebrating, officials waved off the goal, believing that Olli Maatta had made a hand pass to Caggiula.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews got an explanation from the officials about the call, which could prove costly in the standings down the stretch.
"He said it was his mistake," Toews said. "It is what it is. I think we can do a better job, myself especially, of not getting frustrated and focusing on the calls that go against us. It's going to happen. "(We) just have to stay in the game."
DeBrincat ended some frustration with his first goal in five games when he swooped in to bang home a rebound with the Blackhawks on a first-period power play.
It marked DeBrincat's fifth goal in his last 24 games and just his 12 this season after scoring 41 in 2018-19.
"I feel like I've been taking a little too many games to get going," said DeBrincat said. "Obviously, it feels good to score but I have to be more consistent and score more often and try to help the team win as much as possible."
Can the goal help springboard DeBrincat, who is on a pace to score 19 goals this season, to strong finish to the season?
"I hope so," he said. "I've been saying that a lot of the year. I think I end up scoring one and then take five, six games off. Being more consistent is huge and I hope I can get going this last half of the season."
Said Colliton of the 22-year-old DeBrincat: "He's a guy who puts high demands on himself. He wants to score. He wants to help the team win. He's a guy who scores goals and when he's not doing that it wears on you. Having said that, I think if you look at the game and how he's playing I think he's maybe even playing better than last year as far as generating chances and his play away from the puck. It's just not going in. But that kind of thing it will even out for him if he just sticks with it. We want him to not get frustrated, just believe in what he's doing and keep working. He's the type of guy who can score 12 goals in two weeks."
Rookie Kirby Dach assisted on DeBrincat's score to extend his points streak (1G, 5A) to five games, matching a career-best.
Dach, the third-overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, has raised the level of his game of late with strong play at both ends of the ice. In addition to the assist, Dach had a career- and team-high four takeaways against the Bruins.
"I'm pretty confident in myself and know what my abilities are," Dach said. "I just have to find a way to be consistent each and every night.
"It just (seems) to come a little bit easier than it was at the beginning of the year," Dach added. "I think that comes with time and maturing with the game. There are a lot of older guys in the locker room that have kind of gone through the whole rookie process and it's good for me to learn from those guys."
Dach believes he can be a difference-maker for the Blackhawks during their battle for Western Conference postseason berth.
"That's the hope," he said. "You always want to be a difference-maker every time you step out on the ice. That's how you find a way to improve your game and get better each and every day."