'Brutal' late collapse leaves Blackhawks seeing Stars

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'Brutal' late collapse leaves Blackhawks seeing Stars

The Blackhawks were clinging onto their 1-0 lead, with about 10 minutes separating them from their fifth consecutive victory and their first shutout of the season.

But about 10 minutes later, both of those possibilities were gone.

Marian Hossa scored his 24th goal of the season but the Dallas Stars scored three unanswered goals in the final 10:35 of the game to beat the Blackhawks 3-1 at the United Center on Thursday night. The Blackhawks had their four-game winning streak snapped and remain in sixth place, but failed to gain ground on fifth-place Nashville.

The Blackhawks were once again without captain Jonathan Toews, who was already out with an upper-body injury and then was in a minor one-car accident Thursday morning. Coach Joel Quenneville said Toews was at the game and is fine. Its undetermined if Toews will go on the Los AngelesAnaheim trip.

The loss was tough enough; but it was the way the Blackhawks lost that had Quenneville frustrated. The Blackhawks knew it was going to be a tight, close game, and the third-period lapses were costly.

Tough, tough, tough, brutal, Quenneville said of the waning minutes. These points were very valuable and we can look and say we gave them away. Tonight we didnt do enough to deserve the win and it was right in our hands and let it get away.

Hossa scored after a Michael Frolik steal midway through the second, when the Blackhawks outshot the Stars 16-5. But the third went the exact opposite way. The Stars found energy, and the Blackhawks inability to clear a few times led to a few Stars goals. Steve Ott and Michael Ryder had tip-in goals in front and Loui Eriksson knocked in a Ryder shot that deflected off Brent Seabrook.

We make a little mistake and couldnt clear the puck. They got (two tipped goals) and then the third we tried to defend on it too much, said Hossa, who had to leave the ice briefly to shake off blocking a Sheldon Souray shot. Some nights you have to grind like that. But the third period wasnt our best.

Viktor Stalberg said its a tough one to swallow when they score like that. We have to be better blocking those shots, not giving up those tips in front. Its a game, weve been playing pretty solid the last couple of games and we have to get back to that.

The Blackhawks tests continue this weekend, with back-to-back road games in Los Angeles and Anaheim. The Blackhawks have been playing pretty good hockey as of late. Theyd just rather forget the final 10 minutes or so of this one.

We didnt generate a whole lot (offensively) but we knew it was that kind of game, Quenneville said. We didnt have to do too much with the puck. We just had to get a couple of them out. To me that was the differential.

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.

Blackhawks sign prospect Matheson Iacopelli to entry-level contract

Blackhawks sign prospect Matheson Iacopelli to entry-level contract

The Blackhawks officially agreed to terms with prospect Matheson Iacopelli on a two-year entry-level contract that begins next season and runs through the 2018-19 campaign.

He will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 22-year-old forward recently completed his sophomore season at Western Michigan, where he scored a team-high 20 goals and added 16 assists in 40 games. It was a huge bounce-back year after recording only one goal and six assists in 27 games during his freshman season.

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A third-round pick (No. 83 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2014, Iacopelli possesses a dangerous shot and is a big-bodied winger at 6-foot-3, 206 pounds. His two-way game still needs fine-tuning, something he will certainly work on in Rockford, but he gives the IceHogs another much-needed scorer.

Iacopelli is the fourth Blackhawks prospect to sign this season out of college, joining John Hayden, Anthony Louis and Luc Snuggerud.