The Chicago Blackhawks are one game away from the end of their season after a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 on Tuesday night. The Hawks now trail in the first-round series, 3-1, as things head back to St. Louis, leaving the team in a major hole after dropping back-to-back games at home.
Players on the Hawks said they needed to "get pissed" after blowing a third-period lead in Game 3, and Corey Crawford embodied that frustration when he brawled with Robby Fabbri after a collision in the second period. That led to a Chicago power play and a Duncan Keith goal, which put the Hawks up 2-1, but things came off the rails from there. Despite getting more than twice as many shots on goal (42-20) in the game, the result was a loss.
The Blues matched with a score before the second intermission to tie the game, 2-2, then the Hawks' defense made some crucial errors in allowing a pair of third-period goals. The second score was especially rough, with Michal Rozsival misplaying a pass in the offensive zone, then Trevor van Riemsdyk getting intercepted by Alex Steen on a casual pass after retreating. Steen went in and scored on Crawford to make it 4-2. He would finish the game with three points.
At that point, the score effects started rolling and the Hawks racked up shot attempts. Keith cut the lead in half on a deflected shot with under six minutes left in regulation and the last few minutes of the game were at least some entertaining, intense hockey. However, Brian Elliott continued his stellar play and Andrew Shaw made a costly penalty that put the Hawks on the penalty kill in the final minutes while trying to rally. Elliott saved 39 of 42 attempts in this game and has a .953 save percentage so far in the series.
The only player who might be more important for St. Louis in this series is Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored the first two goals for the Blues while the Hawks generally outplayed them. With Elliott playing out of his mind -- biting into the Hawks' advantage on shots -- and Tarasenko's remarkable finishing ability, the Blues have proven to be a very formidable opponent. Sprinkle in the occasional mistake and some bad puck luck and you have the makings of a 3-1 series deficit for Chicago.
Anyone who's followed the Blackhawks knows this series is far from over. They've come back from a 3-1 hole before in 2013 against the Red Wings. Most of those players aren't around, though, and now the Hawks are running out of time for their fortunes to turn. Game 5 is on the road Thursday night. Let's hope it's not the last time we get to do this for a while.