Riding high off their first win of the season on Monday, the Chicago Blackhawks fell to the unbeaten Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 Wednesday night. The Hawks held a lead entering the third period, but the Hurricanes proved to be too much in the final frame.
With the loss, Chicago drops to 1-8-2 on the season, only better than the Arizona Coyotes in the league standings. After the loss, the Blackhawks will have a chance to redeem themselves on Friday.
Despite being the underdog entering play on Wednesday, the Blackhawks came out swinging in the first period.
Only 1:35 into the opening frame, Alex DeBrincat tallied on a high pass from Patrick Kane. Kane was at the Hawks' blue line when he sent the feed. Once "The Cat" received the pass, he split the Carolina defense and beat Frederik Andersen for the goal. Perhaps Kane can play quarterback in the next Blackhawks Flag Football League.
However, the excitement didn't last long. Just under five minutes after the Hawks grabbed the early lead, the Hurricanes struck back and tied the game thanks to Derek Stepan.
Both teams entered the first intermission tied at a goal apiece. Despite the tied score, the Blackhawks held their own in the first.
The Blackhawks came out with a sense of urgency in the middle frame.
Once again, the Hawks found a way to capitalize early in a period. At the 2:49 mark, Patrick Kane tallied his second goal of the season. After DeBrincat failed to capitalize on a chance, Riley Stillman found the loose puck and sent it toward the goal. The puck redirected off of Kane's stick, as well as Carolina defenseman Ian Cole's stick, before beating Andersen five-hole to take the lead.
The Hawks continued to dictate play. Just over five minutes after Kane gave Chicago the advantage, they padded said lead. On an incredible effort from Mike Hardman, he bullied Brady Skjei in the slot then set up Philipp Kurashev. Kurashev found DeBrincat crashing the net and he did not miss, giving the Hawks the 3-1 advantage.
Then, something shifted in the game. Perhaps the Hawks became too comfortable with their lead. At the 12:50 mark in the second period, rookie Seth Jarvis tallied his first career goal to cut into Chicago's lead.
Following Jarvis's tally, the Blackhawks entered the second intermission with a one-goal lead. However, based on the Canes' record, the lead was not safe.
The Blackhawks fell apart. How many times have fans seen that the last few seasons? The Blackhawks broke down in the final 20 minutes then scrapped their way into chances to tie the score late. However, the valiant effort wasn't enough to take down the juggernaut Hurricanes.
At just the 0:17 second mark of the third, Jesper Fast scored his fourth goal of the young season to tie the contest. For the Blackhawks, when it rains, it pours. Roughly three minutes later, Martin Necas scored for the visitors to put them in front at the United Center. The Necas goal proved to be the final difference, giving the Hurricanes their ninth straight win to start the 2021-22 season.
The Blackhawks had numerous chances late in the period to tie things up. In fact, a minor, then a double minor late in the third, gave the Hawks a golden opportunity to tie the game, if not take the lead. The double minor actually came with about five and a half minutes left, effectively giving Chicago the man advantage for nearly the rest of the game. Despite also pulling the goalie partially through to create a two-man advantage, the Hawks failed to convert and the Hurricanes escaped with another win.
Overall, Wednesday was a solid effort from the Chicago Blackhawks. However, the better team showed up when they needed to and took the two points available. Chicago very much could have won this game. Getting too comfortable with a two-goal lead was ultimately the team's downfall in front of their home crowd.
It is always nice seeing your stars show up. Patrick Kane had two points (one goal, one assist) and Alex DeBrincat lit the lamp twice in the loss. But outside of those two players, and five other players that all tallied one assist on Wednesday, everyone else was silent. The team was mostly carried by the two aforementioned superstars.
If the Blackhawks hope to have any sort of success this season, they need depth players to step up on a regular basis. That roster depth is there, but they are either showing up at the same time or not showing up at all. Lately, it's been more of the latter than the former.
Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't perfect on Wednesday, but he was certainly solid enough to have a chance to win. Fleury over the course of his career will have nights like tonight, but even so, he played well enough for the win. The rest of the team failed to show up when they had the lead in order to preserve it.
What's On Tap Next?
The Blackhawks will travel north of the border for a Friday night matchup with the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets enter Friday's game 5-2-2, showing they are a force to be reckoned with this season. The 1-8-2 Blackhawks need a win on the road if they have any hope of righting the ship. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM CDT.