ST. LOUIS – The Chicago Blackhawks were playing well, from goaltending on out. They were challenging Jaroslav Halak on one end, with Corey Crawford keeping things at bay on the other.
But all it takes is one mistake at a critical time against a team that’s likely to capitalize on it. And with just about 20 seconds remaining on Wednesday night, that’s exactly what befell the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks got caught with too many players down low, and Alex Steen turned a Blues 3-on-1 into a game-winning goal with 21.1 seconds remaining as they beat the Blackhawks, 3-2, at Scottrade Center. It was the Blackhawks’ first regulation loss of this season, but it was one that left a bitter taste in their mouths.
“Brutal loss,” coach Joel Quenneville said afterward. “You look back (at the last two games), three points left on the table. We’ve got to get that game to overtime. I don’t now what we were thinking about. We’ll take one, maybe two (points). Getting none is unacceptable.”
It certainly looked headed to overtime as the seconds ticked away. A late Jonathan Toews shot (or pass) went to Alex Pietrangelo, as four Blackhawks (Toews, Bryan Bickell, Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook) descended toward the goal. That left the Blues with a lot of room, a lot of open guys and a 3-on-1 going the other way. Steen fired past Crawford, who looked like he got part of the shot before it trickled past him.
“Once you let it go, you can kind of see this one has a chance,” Steen told local reporters. “I had to look around at first and I heard from the bench we had a rush, but I wanted to know how much time and space we had. Once I get in over the blue line, the 'D' kind of pushed over to (T.J. Oshie) and it was a shot.”
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Crawford was frustrated at the result.
“As a goalie, you want to come with a save. That’s one I stop a bunch of times if that’s replayed,” said Crawford, who stopped 31 of 34. “Yeah, we were pressing late, had a couple of chances. It’s a tough way to lose the game. We’re definitely frustrated with that. We just have to be better.”
Quenneville said, “we played a good game but you can’t make a mistake like that. We played well last game, too ... We got one point; it was something. But tonight getting nothing, it’s a huge four-point swing.”
The Blackhawks did have positives. They had a lot of them, actually. They were once again getting a lot of time in their opponents’ zone, as well as plenty of shots to go with that time. The power play scored twice, and in a matter of seconds both times. Kane got the first one seven seconds into their first advantage, with Toews capitalizing 15 seconds into the second. But it all came down to the end, and in the end, the Blackhawks didn’t come up with that last big play or big stop.
“It’s frustrating,” Toews said. “That’s two games in a row. Tonight we got robbed of two points. Last game we got robbed of one point. It’s just from making some small mistakes late in the game, which is normally when we feel we take over and get better. We have to finish stronger regardless of the score. We talk about getting points early, and we’re letting points slip away. We have to remind ourselves of that.”
It’s certainly not the end of the world, not with so many games left. Nobody expected the Blackhawks to go on another 21-0-3 run to start the season. But they also don’t want to make mistakes that give their opponents another goal on the scoreboard and costs them one or two points in the standings.