Late struggles lead to shootout loss for Hawks

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Late struggles lead to shootout loss for Hawks

The Chicago Blackhawks had a problem last season holding onto slim leads in third periods.

And while doing it once in this early season hardly constitutes a problem, the Blackhawks still weren't too happy they did it.

Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane scored but the Bruins tied it midway through the third and won it in a 3-2 shootout at the United Center on Saturday night. The Blackhawks held a 2-1 advantage until Nathan Horton scored with 7:56 remaining in the third period. While it's still early and the Blackhawks will take that point, there's no doubt they lost their hold on this one.

"We had a couple plays in second period late in shifts where we were trying to make one more play," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We lost the momentum. We should be going ahead with the puck and we go back and it ends up in our net."

The momentum swung from the Blackhawks early to the Bruins late, but one thing was constant: the goaltending. And for both sides, it was stellar. Corey Crawford, who missed the first two days of practice this week, stopped 35 of 37 shots. Crawford said he felt good after his early-week malady.

"It was a pretty exciting game in the third," Crawford said. "But I've got to find a way to make another save when we're up 2-1 and try to close it out."

Meanwhile, Bruins netminder Tim Thomas flashed the brilliance that helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup last spring. He stopped 27 of 29 in regulation and denied Jonathan Toews, Kane and Patrick Sharp in the shootout.

"I dont read (shootout attempts) until the last minute," he said. "On all three, because of two five-hole goals tonight, I was trying to make sure they couldnt have the five-hole first, but tried to keep myself in position to cover the other spots."

The Blackhawks could've avoided the shootout altogether if they'd been sharper in the third period. Be it their sloppiness or the Bruins surge, Boston took control and the Blackhawks couldn't get that two-goal advantage.

"For whatever reason we didn't play the way we wanted to in the third," said Kane, who had another stellar game at center. "It's tough to give up a goal (leading) 2-1. It seemed like we were playing back, not pushing the pace. You don't want to cheat and push too much, but at the same time it would've been nice to make it 3-1."

The Blackhawks aren't going to sweat this one too much. The goaltending was sharp. Boston, coming off a summer of celebrations or not, is a deep and talented team. The 60-minute games will come.

"We lost the momentum even though we had the lead in the third," Quenneville said. "You don't have to give them anything but we did."

Briefly

Daniel Carcillo was active physically again, credited with a game-high eight hits. Bryan Bickell was next with six.

Marian Hossa did not play on Saturday night. Coach Joel Quenneville said again after the game that Hossa's upper-body injury is "not that bad. We're hoping he practices Monday and plays Tuesday (against Phoenix)."

Viktor Stalberg returned to the lineup after missing two and a half weeks with a left knee injury.

Blackhawks: Tommy Wingels fractures foot, will be ready for training camp

Blackhawks: Tommy Wingels fractures foot, will be ready for training camp

Tommy Wingels, who the Blackhawks acquired earlier this month, will miss 6-8 weeks after suffering a left-foot fracture during his offseason training. Team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement that the Blackhawks, “anticipate a full recovery in 6-8 weeks and in time for training camp. We do not anticipate any long-term issues.”

The Blackhawks signed Wingels, a Wilmette native, to a one-year deal on July 1. Wingels will still be at this weekend’s convention.

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

This is public service announcement regarding Alex DeBrincat and his potential this season with the Blackhawks:

Tap the brakes.

We’ve relayed this address a few times the past few seasons, most notably with Teuvo Teravainen as people eagerly anticipated his professional debut. We’re pretty sure when he was recalled for the first time, exultant trumpets played faintly in the background. But it bears repeating now with DeBrincat, who might or might not do fantastic things right out of training camp.

This warning, however, comes not only because DeBrincat might not be ready for the grand stage play-wise. It’s also because the Blackhawks might not have room for him.

Take a look at CapFriendly.com for the Blackhawks’ current situation: As they enter the fall they’re roughly $35,000 over the $75 million salary cap, but it’s not so much about money as it is the roster setup. There are 22 players currently listed on the Blackhawk’s CapFriendly roster, but only five defensemen. Also, of the 14 forwards listed, only one could be sent to Rockford without going through waivers (Nick Schmaltz).

So if there’s no room for DeBrincat, don’t be surprised.

Still, it’s going to be interesting to see what DeBrincat does at training camp this fall. You understand why the hype is there. DeBrincat is coming off three stellar seasons with the Erie Otters, with whom he had 127 points (65 goals, 62 assists) last season. DeBrincat is hopeful that a strong training camp could lead to opportunity, but he understands it might not be right away.

“I’m confident in my abilities,” DeBrincat said. “But they have a plan for me and I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I’ll stick with their plan.”

But the Blackhawks will take the slow-and steady approach with him as they did with past younger players. He’s only 19 years old, so there’s no need to rush his development. Playing time in the American Hockey League could be very beneficial for him as he makes the jump from the OHL to the pros. As former Otters coach Kris Knoblauch said earlier this summer, dealing with bigger and stronger players at this level is going to be the toughest hurdle for DeBrincat.

“It’s not that he’s afraid; he’s very good at battles. But just playing against the opposition, against five strong, fast players and just finding out how much time he has, where the room is,” Knoblauch said in early June. “One-on-one battles in our league, there are strong guys and he does fairly well. But when you have a unit of guys, it makes the game a little more difficult.”

DeBrincat will have his time with the Blackhawks. It just might not be right away, and for several reasons, including the current roster setup. So let’s tap the brakes. For now, anyway.