The Blackhawks fell 2-1 to the Flames on Tuesday at United Center. Dylan Strome injured his right ankle in the second period and didn’t return to the game.
Dominik Kubalik collected his 13th goal of the season and Corey Crawford made 26 saves.
Chicago was 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, which included two 5-on-3’s for Calgary. However, the Blackhawks’ struggles on the power play continued with an 0-for-2 effort.
How it Happened
Early in the period, the Blackhawks were awarded a power play after Noah Hanifin high-sticked Jonathan Toews. The first unit had a new look with Kirby Dach on the left wall, Toews in Strome’s usual spot near the crease and Alex DeBrincat playing the bumper position. However, the unit looked a bit disorganized and too stagnant, which allowed the Flames to clear the puck multiple times.
Not much later Patrick Kane had a 2-on-1 with Dylan Sikura, but Cam Talbot made a nice blocker save on Kane.
Then for nearly the rest of the first period, the Blackhawks played tight defense and only allowed one high-danger scoring chance against. Connor Murphy and Olli Maatta, in particular, had a couple nice deflections on backdoor passes that could have been troublesome.
In addition to playing strong defensively, Chicago had 18 shot attempts and played with impressive pace. They were also noticeably spending more time around the net with screens and attempts to tip shots. It finally paid off with 32 seconds to go in the first period when Kubalik tipped in Adam Boqvist’s shot from the point:
It was Kubalik’s 13th goal of the season and he is now three goals from tying Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson for the lead in NHL rookie goal scoring.
In the second period, the Blackhawks were bombarded by 22 shot attempts and 15 scoring chances from the Flames who controlled most of the period at 5-on-5 with physicality and forced turnovers.
Elias Lindholm scored 14 seconds into the second period after a giveaway by Kubalik on a breakout play. Kubalik misfired on a touch pass to Toews that went right to Matthew Tkachuk. Tkachuk whiffed on the shot, but the puck bounced to Lindholm in the low slot who then squeaked it through Crawford to tie the game:
Not much later Strome fell awkwardly into the boards and went to the locker room in some discomfort with a right ankle injury:
Really hope he’s not out long-term. Chicago can’t afford any more injuries, especially one to Strome.
Colliton said #Blackhawks hope to have a better idea on Strome’s timeline tomorrow, “if it’ll be days or weeks."— Carter Baum (@CarterBaum) January 8, 2020
Forward had six points (3G, 3A) in his last five games coming into tonight.
Then the Blackhawks took a too many men on the ice penalty and Zack Smith got called for high-sticking when he tried to steal the puck from Tkachuk for a short-handed breakaway. It gave the Flames a 5-on-3 for 1:05 minutes.
Toews led by example with two great hustle plays to kill off most of the 5-on-3, Crawford added two quality stops on Tkachuk and the Blackhawks were able to escape unscathed.
Chicago showed some firepower with Kane, Boqvist and Erik Gustafsson all nearly scoring following the penalty kill, but that momentum slipped away after Kane’s turnover on a breakout attempt led to Lindholm’s second goal of the period:
Why was there no call or any type of response when Tkachuk nailed an unsuspecting Dach behind the net after the goal?
In the third period, the Blackhawks went down two men once again after Smith took a slashing call when Gustafsson was already in the box for hooking. Toews and Crawford were on fire and they led the way out of the second 5-on-3 of the game for the Flames.
Here’s an incredible left pad stop by Crawford on Johnny Gaudreau during that 5-on-3:
And a sweet glove save on Sean Monahan on a high-danger scoring chance from the slot:
The last seven minutes included another missed opportunity for the Blackhawks on the power play, but some pretty stellar play from Toews who nearly willed his team to overtime.
It was tough loss for the Blackhawks who just missed on a handful of scoring chances throughout the game, especially Kane who had a breakaway and six individual scoring chances.
1. Elias Lindholm (CGY) - Two goals
2. Corey Crawford (CHI) - 26 saves on 28 shots, five high-danger saves
3. Jonathan Toews (CHI) - Two individual scoring chances, two drawn penalties, 21:06 TOI