Blackhawks lose to Red Wings despite big scoring-chance advantage
The Hawks produced 49 scoring chances while conceding only 19 — their best showing in that regard since Dec. 8, 2017 — yet lost to the lowly Red Wings 5-3 on a strange Saturday night at the United Center.
Some hockey games defy logical analysis.
The Blackhawks’ 5-3 loss Saturday to the Red Wings at the United Center was one of those games.
The Hawks entered the game riding their hottest streak in years; the last-place Wings were without their best player. The goaltending matchup looked favorable for the Hawks. And the Hawks dominated the first seven minutes and much of the rest of the game.
But the result was defeat. So afterward, defenseman Adam Boqvist — one of many Hawks who played well — provided the only logical takeaway.
‘‘If you want to win hockey games,’’ Boqvist said, ‘‘we have to score more goals than them.’’
The Hawks generated a two-on-one rush immediately off the opening faceoff, but Brandon Hagel’s shot off a pass from Dominik Kubalik was saved by Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier.
Ten minutes later, with the Hawks up 11-2 in shots, the Wings’ Bobby Ryan capitalized on a poorly timed defensive breakdown and a rare night of shaky goaltending by Malcolm Subban to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Those two plays set the tone for the next two hours.
Alex DeBrincat’s tying goal midway through the second period was answered by a Wings goal 16 seconds later. Mattias Janmark’s goal and an ensuing frenzied push early in the third period, by which point the Hawks trailed 4-2, was squashed by another Wings goal.
‘‘Basically, I told the team . . . it’s a weird game,’’ said coach Jeremy Colliton, who was visibly conflicted between praising the Hawks’ effort and ruing the result. ‘‘I liked a lot of what we did, and we have to be sharper around our net. They got momentum, and they converted in key moments. We were skating well, we had pressure on the puck, we created enough, we had a lot of zone time. So [let’s] do it again [Sunday], do it better.’’
The Wings were without center Dylan Larkin, their captain and clear-cut best player, who also will miss the rematch Sunday at the United Center.
The Hawks will need to win that one because their schedule turns brutal, starting with a three-game series against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Lightning, when the calendar flips to March.
Still, a case could be made that the Hawks deserved to win Saturday, too. They finished with heavy advantages in shot attempts (70-46) and scoring chances (49-19), their best performances of the season in both categories. In fact, that scoring-chance ratio was their best since Dec. 8, 2017. They just didn’t get rewarded.
‘‘That was just the story of the game,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘We’d have a push, and they were able to stick the dagger in.’’
Soderberg’s growth continues
Center Carl Soderberg remained a bright spot for the Hawks.
His well-placed leading pass was tipped in by Janmark for the Hawks’ second goal. He was the Hawks’ only center who won the majority of his faceoffs — a weakness for the team all season. And the Hawks carried a 17-7 edge in shot attempts during his ice time, one of the best rates of any player.
Soderberg now has eight points in his last seven games while handling an increasingly sizable role as the Hawks’ second-line center between Janmark and Philipp Kurashev.
‘‘I’m skating better, the timing is better [and I’m seeing] the puck go in, which is a great feeling,’’ Soderberg said recently. ‘‘I feel pretty good about myself right now, and I hope it continues.’’