Could the Chicago Blackhawks have found a more uninspiring way to lose the final game of the February road trip? In “that’s so Blackhawks” fashion, every single goal the Jets scored was on a redirect that goaltender Corey Crawford had almost zero chance of stopping. This was maddening, to say the least, because it was the ultimate metaphor for how this road trip transpired:
The Blackhawks just did not have any puck luck.
The first period was statistically in favor of Winnipeg, however, when you put in the hard work, eventually it will pay off. Ryan Carpenter went storming towards the net, banking off a nice feed from Patrick Kane and at 15:44 into the game he managed to score a redirect goal of his own:
In the second period, Winnipeg took a 2-1 lead off of, you guessed it, two redirect goals. The first was scored by Mason Appleton at 6:38 of the second frame. It was incredibly frustrating to watch this goal develop because when your opponent is bombarding the goalie with a shower of shots, the simplest resolution is to ice the puck. Ron Luce and I discussed it on the Four Feathers Podcast postgame show, that 100% of the time taking an icing penalty is better than allowing your opponent to score.
The second Winnipeg goal scored was by Jack Roslovic at the 15:37 mark of this period where again a redirect gave Crawford no chance at a potential save.
There was some light at the end of the second-frame tunnel, however, when with under a minute to play, this beautiful showcase of precision resulted in a tie game thanks to Patrick Kane:
Rolling right into the third period, there was no Blackhawks scoring to evaluate. Nathan Beaulieu scored the game-winning goal for the Jets only 1:36 into the final frame. Even that one deflected off of Alex DeBrincat‘s stick past Crawford. Beaulieu’s goal would be all the Jets needed to put the Hawks away in this one.
The Blackhawks had enough chances in the final minutes of the game to almost force overtime, however, Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was an almost impenetrable fortress, stopping 33 of 35 shots and sporting a .939 save percentage.
The Blackhawks have Monday and Tuesday off before an Original Six meeting with the New York Rangers, who sit seven points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
If the Blackhawks have any shot whatsoever at challenging the postseason, now it truly is crunch time. They sit a full six points behind the Arizona Coyotes for the final wild-card spot and have a tough stretch of games coming up in the opening two weeks of March.