Corey Crawford would have loved to simply write it off as just one of those nights — one of those weird games in which pucks take strange bounces and bad things happen and everything snowballs and oh, forget it, let’s just move on to the next one.
But he knows better. Sure, it’s only November. Sure, it’s only one point. But the Blackhawks had a win against a bitter division rival — one they’re chasing, no less — and let it slip away in trainwreck fashion. Wednesday’s 6-5 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues won’t alter the course of the season or anything, but it’ll surely stick in the craw of Crawford and the rest of the Hawks who let a 5-2 first-period lead evaporate.
“Yeah, it felt like one of those nights,” said Crawford, who stood at his locker and faced the music after allowing six goals on 29 shots. “I tried to battle through it, but when your team scores five goals, you have to find a way. It’s just a tough one, I guess.”
A strange one, too, right from the drop of the puck. Heck, even earlier, considering the Blues didn’t arrive in Chicago until 4 a.m. after their flight was diverted to Milwaukee because of heavy fog.
Where do you want to start?
How about the four goals in barely four minutes early in the first period? How about the Hawks’ first five-goal period in more than five years? How about the soccer-style redirect off Alex Steen’s leg that fluttered up and over Crawford’s shoulder? How about Andrew Shaw finally getting his first goal of the season — on a penalty shot? How about the three St. Louis goalie changes in one period — involving two guys? How about Jake Allen coming in (for the second time) and giving up a goal on the first shot he saw, just eight seconds in? How about Crawford kicking away a shot right into Steen’s stick for a tap-in goal, the goalie frustratedly flopping face-first into the ice? How about the Blues erasing a three-goal deficit in one period?
Remember less than two weeks ago, when it seemed like nobody would ever score again at the United Center?
Yeah, never mind.
This one was on the opposite end of the bizarre spectrum from the back-to-back 1-0 overtime victories they recently had over the Lightning and Ducks. After all, the Hawks and Blues are two of the more defensive-minded teams in the league, entering Wednesday’s game tied for sixth in the league by allowing just 2.17 goals per game.
So naturally, it turned into a 1980s-style free-for-all.
“I never have to worry about offense,” Joel Quenneville said. “But we’ll measure our performance with how we play without the puck, and knowing there are enough ways we can score.”
Well, there are plenty of things for Quenneville to stew on. The Hawks were up 5-2 after the first on the goals by Marko Dano (his first with the Hawks), Shaw (on the penalty shot), Teuvo Teravainen (his second in as many games), Brent Seabrook (a blast from the point) and Patrick Kane (eight seconds into a power play, right after Jake Allen replaced Brian Elliott for a second time).
But with the three-goal lead, the Hawks got a little too loose, a little too sloppy, and a little too careless. Steen’s second goal early in the second made it 5-3, Jay Bouwmeester added a power-play goal at 17:12, and David Backes scored with 33.8 seconds left in the period to tie the game and silence a giddy crowd.
“As a goalie, when your team has a good start, especially five goals, you want to be able to shut it down,” Crawford said. “It just seemed like it didn’t matter what was happening, everything seemed to find its way in.”
Then, after all that, neither team scored in the third period — an eternity without a goal in this game. Tarasenko finally ended it when the Blues caught the gassed Hawks in a change during overtime.
Crawford said the Hawks lost some “urgency” with the three-goal lead, but Jonathan Toews said it wasn’t a lack of focus.
“I wouldn’t take it that far,” he said. “That’s a hard-working team. They were working for those chances. You’re going to make mistakes sometimes when you get a little bit too comfortable, and I think that was the case tonight.”