After further reviews, Blackhawks suffer costly loss to Flames

For the better part of a decade, the Blackhawks’ hallmark has been their cockiness, an unwavering self-belief that they were always the better team. No deficit — not in the standings, not in a game, not in a playoff series — was ever insurmountable. No losing streak was ever cause for despair. No individual drought was ever reason for doubt.

It often bordered on arrogance, but it was well-earned. More often than not, they were proven right.

RELATED STORIES
Blackhawks’ Vinnie Hinostroza sheds ‘tweener’ label with consistent production
Still searching for goals, Brandon Saad dropped to Blackhawks’ fourth line

So it was telling Tuesday morning when Jonathan Toews mentioned “humility” as an important character trait for the Hawks to have for the final 30 games of the season. It came when he was asked if the veteran Hawks could learn something from the younger, untested guys in the room — the ones who are flying around the ice every night, the ones who are playing with the kind of desperation the team’s dire situation warrants.

Jan Rutta and Calgary's Mikael Backlund collide during the second period Tuesday night. (AP Photo)

“Yeah, absolutely,” Toews said. “We’ve talked about that, as far as having that humility and not taking anything for granted, or expecting anything. That’s the way we need to go into every single game, knowing that you’re not going to be given anything and it doesn’t matter what you’ve accomplished [in the past]. You’ve got to go out there and earn that respect every day and earn the results that you’re looking for.”

They failed once again to do that on Tuesday night, suffering a devastating 3-2 loss to the Flames, exacerbated by two goal reviews that went against the Hawks — one that overturned a Ryan Hartman goal, one that upheld a late go-ahead tally by Michael Stone. Meanwhile, the Avalanche, Wild and Ducks all won, leaving the Hawks seven points out of the playoff picture.

It was their third straight loss, and their fifth straight at home, as the season continues to slip away.

No, the Hawks can’t waltz into any arena and win with their B-game anymore. They can’t just assume that when this most irregular regular season ends in exactly two months, they’ll be in a playoff spot. Too often, it has been the kids — the likes of Vinnie Hinostroza, Alex DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz and David Kampf — who are playing like their season is on the line. Too often the vaunted veteran core (with Patrick Kane a notable exception) isn’t leading the way, but rather is along for the ride.

Coach Joel Quenneville said after the game that “our veteran core is playing fine,” but the fact is until Kane’s window-dressing goal with 5.1 seconds left (his first goal in seven games), 14 straight Hawks goals had come from players 23-and-under.

It was the kids who led the way again against the Flames. DeBrincat put the Hawks up 1-0 at 3:35 of the first with a power-play goal. And after Dougie Hamilton scored 70 seconds into the second, Hartman showed some of that fire and desperation, crashing into the net and scoring in a goalmouth scrum.

But after an excruciatingly long delay — first to see if it was kicked in, then to see if there was goaltender interference — the goal was overturned.

The game remained tied until Stone’s goal with 3:30 to play in the third. The shot appeared to hit Johnny Gaudreau’s stick, but a very quick review confirmed the goal, which was given to Stone. Kane’s goal came after a Monahan empty-netter sealed things, and perhaps sealed the Hawks’ fate.

The odds are long, but there are still 29 games left. So if there’s any of that old Hawks defiance left, it is long past time to find it.

“It’s been that way for 20 games already,” Toews said. “That’s not changing. We know the urgency is mounting more and more every single game we play. Just got to find a way.”

Follow me on Twitter
@MarkLazerus.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com