When the defensive lineup for the Blackhawks in this game was announced, there was trouble felt inevitable. Connor Murphy and Erik Gustafsson as the first pairing, Adam Boqvist and Dennis Gilbert as the third. What could possibly go wrong?
When Boqvist and then Calvin de Haan went down in the first period, everything did.
Boqvist would return by the end of the first and de Haan wouldn’t, and that pretty much sums up the game, as the Blackhawks lost 5-1 to the Golden Knights on Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
After a good first period where the Blackhawks held a 19-14 advantage in Corsi events at even strength and had the game’s first power play — although they failed to convert — they collapsed in the second period without de Haan.
Reilly Smith got Vegas on the board first with a shot from behind Corey Crawford. Crawford took the stick, but failed to grab the puck and that led to it bouncing in. From there, Deryk Engelland got on the board with a snipe after a turnover from Adam Boqvist:
The Golden Knights grabbed one more goal in the second, picking up a shorthanded goal from their “power kill” unit of William Karlsson and Smith as Gustafsson failed to defend on the power play.
Vegas’s second period was an onslaught, owning a 16-8 advantage in shots and 12-9 on scoring chances. The Blackhawks couldn’t get anything going offensively which led to the goals against. They needed to be better in front of Crawford down one of their most important defenseman and they just ... weren’t.
In the third period, the Golden Knights got two more goals from Max Pacioretty and Ryan Reaves. The Golden Knights held strong on possession until the end, and outshot the Blackhawks 9-8 at even strength in the final frame.
The Blackhawks got one goal before the game ended, as Dominik Kubalik scored on the power play in garbage time to extend the power play’s scoring streak to four games. Adam Boqvist got his first career NHL assist on that goal. So there’s that.
1. Reilly Smith (VGK) — 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots .47 individual expected goals for
2. Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK) — 28 saves, .966 save percentage, 2.91 expected goals against
3. Deryk Engelland (VGK) — game-winning goal, 4 shots, 2 hits
The Blackhawks continue their road trip Thursday when they visit the Coyotes in Glendale, Arizona.