A two-game series against the Red Wings was supposed to be an easy way for the Blackhawks to close the gap between themselves and the Nashville Predators.
The Blackhawks’ effort in Thursday’s 4-1 loss proves they thought it would be easy as well.
Three Shots, Two Posts, One Goal in the First
The Blackhawks’ hopes of dominating the Red Wings from the drop of the puck quickly faded in the opening minutes of the game. Neither team could generate much of any offense as both sides generated just one shot on goal apiece through the first five minutes.
At the midway mark of the period, the Blackhawks finally started to tilt the ice in their favor. They nearly scored the game’s first goal but back-to-back shots from Duncan Keith and Kirby Dach were denied by the goal post.
Later in the period, Keith finally broke through to give the Blackhawks their first lead of the game. Keith was the recipient of an Alex DeBrincat pass and he buried his second goal in as many games from the top of the left circle.
He now has three goals on the season and now ranks third in Blackhawks’ history for goals by a defenseman with 104.
The Blackhawks finished the first period with three shots on goal, two posts, and a one-goal lead.
An Abysmal Second Period
The Blackhawks were outscored 3-0 in the second period despite having six minutes of power play time.
With Adam Boqvist out of the lineup due to concussion symptoms, head coach Jeremy Colliton designed a first power play unit consisting of five forwards. The experiment was unsuccessful and the Blackhawks as a team only generated four shots on goal during their time with the man advantage.
The Red Wings’ first goal to tie the game saw an uncommon play by Blackhawks’ goaltender Kevin Lankinen. Detroit’s Troy Stetcher took an innocent slap shot from just inside the blue line and the shot bounced off Lankinen’s blocker, over his shoulder, and into the net.
Detroit went on to score two more goals in a two-minute span later in the second period. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, fired 11 shots on goal, but none of them looked dangerous and the visitors were heavily outplayed.
Natural Stat Trick credited the Blackhawks with two scoring chances at 5v5 in the second period with zero high-danger chances.
Blackhawks Show Little Urgency in Crucial Third Period
A big push from the Blackhawks was expected heading into the third period considering they faced a two-goal deficit against the worst team in the division.
I’ll let the numbers do the talking.
They had three shots in the first ten minutes of the period and played the majority of that time in their own end.
The Blackhawks went on to generate ten scoring chances in the final period, but only three were considered high-danger and they never seemed to threaten the Detroit lead.
The Blackhawks ultimately fell 3-1 and now hold a 20-19-5 record on the season. They continue to trail the Nashville Predators, who hold the final playoff spot, by four points. Chicago had a golden opportunity to cut into that point differential considering the caliber of their opponent and Nashville falling to the Carolina Hurricanes, but they failed to capitalize.
A Tough Road Ahead
Looking ahead at the Blackhawks’ final 12 games of the season, they face Detroit again on Saturday before matchups against each of the four teams who are ahead of them in the standings.
There may have been a bit of looking ahead by Chicago tonight knowing the remainder of their schedule presented such a major challenge, while the Wings sit near the bottom of the league.
The outcome of Saturday’s game has huge implications on the Blackhawks’ likelihood of making the playoffs, so hopefully their effort is better than tonight’s.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Blackhawks will be eager to earn two points when they face the Red Wings again on Saturday night at 6:00 PM CT before heading to Nashville on Monday.