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3 takeaways from Blackhawks’ 4-0 loss to Blues

Chicago has been “terrible” during its three-game winless streak.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Blackhawks were shut out for the third time this season — second time against a Central Division opponent — in a 4-0 loss to the Blues on Monday night at the United Center.

Man down

The Blackhawks played with 11 forwards and six defensemen due to salary cap constraints after being outscored 12-5 in their past two games in a home-and-home against the Avalanche. Chicago was without five players Monday: defenseman Duncan Keith (groin), forwards Drake Caggiula and Dylan Strome (concussion protocol) and Andrew Shaw (undisclosed) and goaltender Robin Lehner (flu). Both Lehner and Shaw were day of changes to the lineup, though it’s unclear if Lehner would’ve played over Corey Crawford, who made 26 saves in the loss.

Patrick Kane picked up the ice time with a game-high 24:30 minutes, but was unable to extended his point streak to 16 games. The last time Kane was held without a point was Oct. 29 in a 3-0 loss to the Predators in Nashville. He had 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in the streak.

It’s unclear how long the Blackhawks will be in this roster crunch as both Caggiula and Strome skated Monday morning. Caggiula is eligible to return from long-term injured reserve Thursday in Boston. The Blackhawks need players other than Kane and Brandon Saad to step up in the absence of others.

Slow starts

Terrible indeed. The Blackhawks have been outscored 8-2 in the first period during their last three games. They’ve allowed a first-period goal in six of their last seven, and have gone 1-5-1 during that stretch with Crawford’s 32-save shutout against Dallas on Nov. 26 as the lone victory.

With injuries piling up, the Blackhawks are already behind the 8-ball in games and slow starts are hurting their cause even more.

Top Central

The Blackhawks went 1-3-1 against Central Division opponents in their last five games, including three consecutive losses to the divisions top teams in the Avalanche and Blues. Chicago, however, managed to take three of four points against the Stars to start the five-game stretch.

Chicago is 2-4-2 this season against Central foes, and all of those teams except the Jets are projected to contend for a playoff spot. The Blackhawks don’t face the Wild until Dec. 15 in Chicago. Even still, the Blackhawks find themselves 10-12-5 this season and in last place in the Central trailing St. Louis by 17 points.