by Scott King
The Blackhawks don’t really have much to play for anymore. According to Hockey-Reference.com’s model, the Blackhawks have a less than one percent chance of making the playoffs despite having 25 regular season games left counting Thursday night’s contest vs. the Anaheim Ducks.
Normally bottom six forwards Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels received top six promotions for consistently gutsy play of late, an honor that may not have been bestowed upon them if the team had a realistic chance to make the postseason.
There’s still no timetable for Corey Crawford’s return, and maybe they’re shouldn’t be as at this point, it could only do more harm than good.
Despite putting themselves in an unclimbable hole in the Wild Card race , the Hawks did seem to be playing for something Thursday night.
Duncan Keith scored his first goal of the season on a power play towards the start of the second period. He last scored a goal on March 16, 2017 before shooting 169 straight shots before finding the back of the net.
Brandon Saad also shook off some rust later in the second period by scoring on a timely feed in front of the net from Vinnie Hinostroza to put the Hawks up 2-0. Saad hadn’t scored in 16 games prior to the Thursday tally. “It feels good to score,” Saad said. “At that point in the game we’re up, but we need to get wins. You want to score and contribute to wins. It’s definitely a tough night.”
The Ducks’ Nick Ritchie answered back soon after to bring Anaheim within one after Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy mishandled the puck at the blue line.
Another defensive error led to a Ducks’ goal when Michal Kempny passed the puck right to Adam Henrique, who found Ondrej Kase all alone on a breakaway to tie the game 2-2.
Ryan Hartman tried to help the Hawks finish the third period strong with a huge hit on Jakob Silfverberg. The clean hit drew the attention of four Ducks who wanted a piece of Hartman. He fled them all to avoid a penalty and somehow he still wound up with a roughing minor. Josh Manson was hit with two minors for roughing on the play, leading to an uneventful Hawks’ power play.
Adam Henrique scored around the midway point of the third period to put Anaheim ahead 3-2.
Keith and Saad finding the back of the net was a case of too little too late in the 3-2 loss, and that will most likely be the team’s case till the end of the regular season when they’ll fail to reach the postseason for what would have been a tenth consecutive time.
“It’s frustrating,” Keith said. “It’s the situation we’re in. Can’t live in the past. It’s obviously not the position we want to be in, it’s not a good feeling. We’ve been talking about trying to get that good feeling in here just [by] winning one game.”
In The Nets
Gibson made 42 saves and Forsberg stopped 29 Ducks’ shots.
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