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THREE THINGS: West Stumble, Momentum and Injuries

Three takeaways from Chicago's 2-1 loss to Calgary on Tuesday night at the United Center

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

The Blackhawks suffered a setback in their quest to make a run in the Western Conference standings at the hands of the Flames.

Elias Lindholm scored twice in the second period and goaltender Cam Talbot made 31 saves as the Flames dropped the Blackhawks 2-1 in a tightly-contested showdown Tuesday night at the United Center.

Dominik Kubalik scored for the Blackhawks but it wasn't enough as Corey Crawford (26 saves) suffered the loss.

"It was just a close game (and a) tough one to lose," Crawford said. "It was a good game. It was there for us to take and I just couldn't come up with it."

The loss was the Blackhawks' third in their last nine games and they fell to 19-19-6 on the season. The Flames improved to 23-17-5.

"Of course disappointed," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said afterward. "That was a big matchup and a chance to climb closer to them (in the standings) and it didn't happen. We did some good things … just ultimately the second period killed us."

Here are three takeaways from the Blackhawks' loss:

Video: CHI Recap: Kubalik scores in Blackhawks' 2-1 loss


WESTERN STUMBLE

Due to their roller-coaster start, the Blackhawks are on the outside of the postseason race looking in, making each game that much more important. That is why Tuesday's loss stung as the Flames are a team the Blackhawks are chasing in the Western Conference standings.

"At the end of the day, when everybody knows we need the points and we know what the standings are like and where they're at and where we are, it's tough to lose these two points," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "(We) have to have some awareness of our situation. It's going to be a tight one all the way."

Colliton said he's not exactly living and dying with each out-of-town score, though he is keeping tabs on things.

"I think everyone's aware of it, but it doesn't do a lot of good," Colliton said. "We've just got to focus on the game in front of us and having a good effort, starting on time. I think we've been playing better. Our habits are better. We're giving ourselves a chance to win for the most part most nights and we'll need to continue to do that. The second part of our focus needs to be on improving. I think we're a better team now than we were a couple months ago and look a month down the road we need to take further steps as being more consistent, play at a higher level all the time, control the game more than we are and that will help us get to where we need to go."

Added defenseman Olli Maatta: "Right now, our goal is to make the playoffs. We just have to keep getting better every game and we'll be fine. At the end of it we'll see where we're at."

Video: Keith on loss to CGY


NO MOMENTUM

Often when a team kills an opponent's two-man advantage it gains momentum that can result in an offensive push. The Blackhawks' penalty killers blanked the Flames on two two-man advantages but a push did not follow in each instance.

"Honestly, it's not easy," Kubalik said of killing off the 5-on-3s. "But we did a pretty good on those PKs and we've just got to find a way to build momentum in their zone."

In the second period, the Blackhawks killed off 1:05 of a Flames five-on-three chance as John Quenneville served a two-many-men penalty and Zack Smith was sent off for high-sticking. The Flames had three shots on goal during the sequence but Crawford stopped them.

Crawford came up big in the third when the Flames had a two-man advantage for 1:17 after Erik Gustafsson was penalized for tripping and Smith for slashing. Calgary had two shots on goal while skating 5-on-3 and each was a quality chance. First, Crawford made a brilliant pad save on Johnny Gaudreau and then flashed his glove to snare a Sean Monahan shot.

"A couple big kills on 5-on-3s and we did a really good job - they didn't get too many chances even," Keith said. "Those are positives and I think penalty killing has been good for us all year. That's going to have to be key. (You) try to do what you can after a big kill and try to go to work, but they did a good job, too, of shutting things down and we didn't get a lot of chances."

Video: Colliton on loss to CGY, Strome's injury


ANOTHER INJURY

Already playing without several regulars due to injuries, the Blackhawks lost Dylan Strome to a right ankle injury early in the second period. The center crashed awkwardly into the boards and limped to the dressing room and did not return.

After the game, Colliton did not have an immediate update on Strome's injury.

"(We'll) probably see (Wednesday) how it looks," Colliton said. "I'm not sure we will have an exact date then, either, but we'll know if it's days or weeks."

The Blackhawks were without Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol), Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol), Brandon Saad (ankle), Brent Seabrook (hip) and Calvin de Haan (shoulder) and the Strome injury added to those woes.

"We have a lot of injuries - a lot of teams have injuries, though, and they find ways," Keith said. "We're certainly in that situation where we need to find a way."

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