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Where Does the Good Go: Flames 5, Blackhawks 2

Another game, another loss for the Blackhawks at the United Center.

Calgary Flames v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

Tell me if you’ve heard this before: the Chicago Blackhawks lost again at the United Center.

This time, they were defeated 5-2 by the Calgary Flames on Monday night, bring the Blackhawks home record to just 12-21-6.

As has happened too often this season, the Blackhawks opponent scored within the first minute of the game: this time, it was the Flames going up 1-0 just 22 seconds in. Off the second faceoff of the game, Dillion Dube deflected a long shot from Noah Hanifin that trickled past Kevin Lankinen.

Johnny Gaudreau then put on his invisibility cloak to double the Flames lead by skating around the full perimeter of the offensive zone and then fired a perfectly placed wrist shot for a goal. Don’t think a single Blackhawks player got within two feet of Gaudreau.

The Blackhawks got one back at 7:06 into the first period with a goal on their second shot of the game. Jonathan Toews won a puck battle in the corner before sliding the puck out front. It missed the intended target of Dominik Kubalik but Tyler Johnson found it and went top shelf from just inside the circle to make it 2-1.

Blake Coleman added another before the period closed to put the Flames up 3-1. After another faceoff win for the Flames, Oliver Kylington sent an innocent looking shot from just inside the blue line and Coleman redirected it in.

The Flames had 14 shots on goal compared to the Blackhawks’ six in the first 20 minutes, so Lankinen needed to make some impressive saves to keep the bleeding to just three goals against, two of which were deflections.

The Blackhawks cut the the Flames lead to just one goal in the second period off Alec Regula’s first NHL goal. The rookie defensemen shot from far out through traffic to hit the side post and in.

Unfortunately, despite a strong push from the Blackhawks in the third period, they weren’t able to get any more goals on the board. The Flames added two empty-netters in the waning minutes of the game to make it 5-2.

And now we know: the United Center is cursed this season.

Notes

  • The Blackhawks sure love being scored on quick this season, huh? Counting tonight, they’ve had six games in which their opponent scored within the first minute of the game, something that we all feel like has happened far too often this season — and that’s not including the many, many other games in which their opponent scored in the first 2-3 minutes too.
  • The no-call on the high-stick that Toews took to the face in the first was ridiculous, right? That was right in front of the refs and Toews was obviously bleeding. I don’t like to complain about officiating and a power play wouldn’t make a difference probably but ... come on.
  • MacKenzie Entwistle missed most of the game after injuring his shoulder in the first period on just his third shift on the game. He’s not going on the upcoming three-game road trip, so it’ll be a good chance for Philipp Kurashev, Henrik Borgstrom, or a player from Rockford to get some playing time.
  • Unsurprisingly, the line of DeBrincat, Strome, and Kane absolutely was the best of the game in terms of shot metrics. While that trio was on the ice, Chicago owned 72.22 percent of the shot attempts, 81.82 percent of the shots on goal, and 65 percent of the expected goals. They probably were owed more than one goal (the Regula one) with them on the ice. Every other line was below water when it came to shot metrics and that’s how it looked when watching the game.
  • Speaking of the Regula goal, credit to Alex DeBrincat for regaining possession after Calle Järnkrok had created a turnover. Lots of times this season, the Blackhawks lose possession easily in the offensive zone but DeBrincat is one of the best at either keeping the puck or getting it back.
  • So happy for Regula for getting his first NHL goal. He missed a decent amount of time this season to injury but was still one of the best defensemen for the Rockford IceHogs — and arguably the Blackhawks during this cup of coffee — and he definitely deserved to be rewarded for those performances. And his mom got to see his goal!
  • I know there was a decent amount of special teams in the first period and that Entwistle meant there weren’t four lines, but it’s still a waste that that Reichel and Raddysh played only about eight minutes each at 5-on-5. Like ... why play Reese Johnson more? Makes no sense, especially when both those players are actually better defensively than some others too, even if they’re new. Glad Reichel is headed back to Rockford after this game.
  • There’s no surprise the Blackhawks had three goals scored on them in the first period — they’re not very good and the Flames are the flip side of that coin — but that second goal against was one of the ugliest defense sequences all season. Good players like Gaudreau will make magic happen, but there’s no excuse for not a single Blackhawks player to be near him for a majority of his around-the-world trip he went on before scoring.
  • The third goal against was another example of the Blackhawks not being able to exit the zone: Seth Jones tried to ring the puck around to Kane, but the pass was pretty easily picked off. That Jones typically is the best of the Chicago defense at zone exits, but it was a good example of what has haunted the team as a whole all season.
  • Based on goals alone, the second period seemed better for the Blackhawks. But, in reality, the Flames still dominated puck possession. However, Lankinen was very good in net — even two of the first-period goals against were deflections — and the offense looked a little less inept. But it’d be great if the Blackhawks in-front and the goalie could be more in-tune with each other.
  • The third period is when the Blackhawks started to come alive. Some of that was likely score effects, but that’s okay — it means the Blackhawks kept fighting to the end. In the preview, I asked if the Blackhawks would be able to finish this game with their dignity intact and I feel like they managed that pretty well in the third — the two empty-net goals notwithstanding. At this point in the season, that’s probably as good as it gets.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Johnny Gaudreau (CGY) — 2 G
  2. Blake Coleman (CGY) — 1 G, 1 A
  3. Alec Regula (CHI) — First career NHL goal

What’s next

The Chicago Blackhawks head to the desert to face the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday at 9 p.m.