'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.

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”