Blackhawks collapse in third period, blow three-goal lead in loss to Blues

The Hawks finish their road trip winless after a demoralizing meltdown against the defending champions.

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The Blackhawks conceded four goals in the third period in a loss to the Blues on Saturday.

AP Photos

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks’ road trip was already a losing cause regardless of Saturday’s result.

It already was before Alex Nylander committed an unacceptable-in-peewee turnover to give the Blues life. It already was before Jonathan Toews lost two faceoffs and two defensive marks in 12 seconds, letting the Blues tie the score. It already was before the entire defense lost track of a pinching defenseman and conceded a late winner.

But after this total meltdown en route to a 4-3 loss — in regulation, no less — the road trip feels like a dagger to the heart, not merely a losing cause.

“When you don’t have the confidence of a bunch of wins behind you, yeah, that can happen,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “The only way we’re going to get out of it is by finding a way in those situations. We just run around for no reason. Play to the inside of your check and defend from the middle, and the game’s a lot easier.”

For 44 minutes, the Hawks appeared on track for a second victory this month over a 2019 Stanley Cup finalist. Brandon Saad broke out of his slump with two goals, Corey Crawford turned in his best start in a while and Patrick Kane sniped the visitors to a 3-0 lead.

Then it all unraveled shockingly fast, starting with Nylander’s momentum-shifting lapse. Colliton came to the polarizing young forward’s aid by tossing the rest of the roster under the bus, too.

“If we bench everyone who makes a mistake, we’re not going to have any players,” Colliton said. “The real issue is that, up and down the lineup, we don’t do the right things all the time every shift. Until that changes, it’s hard to win.”

The Hawks finished their three-game trip 0-3-0 after the Golden Knights, Coyotes and Blues successively piled scoring chances all over them.

Saturday’s game was, statistically, the worst of all. The Blues out-attempted the Hawks 25-4 in the first period (even though Colliton later oddly claimed he liked how the Hawks played in it) and ended up with more than twice as many high-danger scoring chances (15-7).

“It’s easy to look at the storyline and get discouraged and come up with the wrong mentality about what can happen going forward, but it’s the wrong way to go about it,” Toews said. “Each guy has to look at himself and try to find ways to bring more out of himself every night.”

Dach not going to world juniors

The Blackhawks won’t release Kirby Dach to play for Canada in the world junior championships, which run Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in the Czech Republic.

“I don’t think it was really up to me,” Dach said. “It’s the management’s choice, and whatever they say goes, so you don’t want to upset the boss.”

Dach has gone 12 consecutive games without a point, but Colliton nonetheless seems confident in the third overall pick’s progress.

“His minutes are going up steadily, and there’s an opportunity for more if he continues to improve, so we didn’t really want to lose that momentum,” Colliton said.

Adam Boqvist is eligible to play for Sweden in the world juniors, but the Hawks haven’t announced if they will allow him to go.

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