CALGARY, Alberta — The so-called “loser point” never felt more apt than it did to describe the Blackhawks’ plight Saturday night.
With a chance for a regulation victory over a team ahead of them in the playoff standings — leading by two goals in the second period and by one with 11 minutes to play in regulation — the Hawks lost to the Calgary Flames 4-3 in overtime Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Hawks led 2-0 early in the second period and 3-2 near the halfway point of the third period. But after former Hawk Michael Frolik tied the game at 9:50 of the third period, Sean Monahan beat a screened Jeff Glass with a wrist shot from the slot 59 seconds into overtime to win it for the Flames.
“We had a good first part of the game and had some tough possessions that got them back in it,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We certainly can’t be happy with result and the way we played when it counted.”
Glass, who stopped 35 of 39 shots, said he lost track of Monahan’s game-winner. “I lost it in the screens,” he said. “Unfortunate break or good play by their player. Whatever way you want to look at it. But I couldn’t quite get eyes on it.”
With the overtime point, the Hawks (24-20-8) moved to within five points of the Wild — who lost to the Golden Knights in regulation on Saturday — for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But they also trail the Flames by four points, the Avalanche by four and the Kings by three.
At this point of the season, getting one point when they had a chance to get two with a regulation victory over a team ahead of them in the standings was particularly costly for the Hawks. They play the Flames on Tuesday at the United Center.
“That’s a big swing. You look at a four-point swing — or a three-point swing or whatever,” Quenneville said. “We still got a lot of time left. But I don’t think you want to look any further than one game at a time. And trying to capture some momentum, then we try to get some consistency for a 60-minute game. That to me would be a nice momentum right now.”
Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza and Anthony Duclair scored for the Hawks. Glass was outstanding in the first period to keep the Hawks ahead 1-0. But the Flames kept coming and eventually solved him. Glass stopped 35 of 39 shots. It was the second consecutive game that Schmaltz scored to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead, only to have the Hawks lose.
“When we get those leads we’ve got to keep pushing,” Schmaltz said. “We can’t sit back and just be happy being up a goal. You’ve got to work for that next one and put them away. Can’t rely on our goaltender, who did a heckuva job tonight and kept us in the game. Credit to him. We’ve got to be better in front of him.”
Schmaltz scored his 15th goal of the season off a nice pass from Patrick Kane to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the first period. It gave Schmaltz 10 goals and 21 points in his last 21 games.
Hinostroza scored 28 seconds into a power play to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead at 1:53 of the second period. Kane also assisted on that goal to give him 499 career assists.
The Flames rallied to tie the game on goals by Matt Stajan and Johnny Gaudreau. But Anthony Duclair scored on a breakaway 1:40 after Gaudreau’s tying goal to quickly give the Hawks a 3-2 lead.
Power play revived
The Hawks broke out of their latest power-play slump — 2-for-28 in their previous nine games — when Hinostroza beat Flames goalie Mike Smith from the lower left circle 28 seconds after the Flames were called for too many men on the ice.
“The easiest thing to fix on the power play,” Quenneville said after the Hawks’ morning skate Saturday, “is having a shoot-first mentality and getting some ugly, greasy goals and all of a sudden — whether they’re going in off defensemen or they hit a stick halfway out to the point — those are the kind of things that can turn it around.”
With goals against the Canucks and Flames, Schmaltz has 10 goals and 21 points in his last 21 games. A big reason for that consistency is skating with Kane on the second line.
“I try to think the game at the same levelas him and make the same plays,” Schmaltz said. “Obviously he’s very elite and there aren’t many players like him. I try to take as much as I can from him. It’s fun playing with him. I think we’re developing some chemistry and we get along really well, so it’s going well for us.”
Follow me on Twitter