Hoge: Missed Opportunities, Tough Calls Doom Blackhawks
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By Adam Hoge-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) Just when it looked like the Blackhawks had gotten back on track, they blew it.
Before Sunday, the Hawks hadn’t won a game since beating the Red Wings at the United Center Dec. 30. It looked like they were going to win their second in a row over Detroit, but the Red Wings tied the game with less than five minutes in regulation and then won 3-2 in overtime.
There’s little question it was the Blackhawks’ best effort since beating the Wings 10 days ago, but they still missed several chances, including a penalty shot from Jimmy Hayes in the third period. It didn’t help that a number of calls didn’t go their way either.
“I thought that was one of our best starts in a while,” goaltender Corey Crawford said after making 24 saves in the loss. “I don’t know how much more you can ask. We played hard, we played good, we made good plays, had chances to score. We played a good game. I don’t know what else to say.”
The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead with two goals in less than a minute in the first period, but spent the rest of the game holding on for dear life.
Dave Bolland scored 3:35 into the game and Patrick Sharp followed up 44 seconds later with a firecracker in the slot. From there, though, the Blackhawks missed out on a number of chances, and had a few calls go against them, leading to the Wings tying it at two with 4:45 left.
The biggest play in the game, however, was one the refs probably blew. With 12:07 left in the game, Andrew Brunette’s slap shot bounced off the post and off of goaltender Ty Conklin’s back. It started trickling toward the goal line, but Tomas Holmstrom dove and covered it with his glove. The puck appeared to go over the line with the glove, but there wasn’t enough video evidence to overturn the call on the ice, which was no-goal. The play still resulted in a penalty shot because Holmstrom covered the puck, but Jimmy Hayes was stopped by Conklin on the ensuing opportunity.
Instead of going up 3-1, it stayed a one-goal game and momentum appeared to shift over to the Wings. Seven minutes later, Danny Cleary tied the game on a shot that was partially stopped before slowly bouncing over the line. Nick Leddy appeared to be in position to stop the puck, but was cross-checked from behind by Valtteri Filppula and no call was made.
After the game, Crawford said his stick was lifted by a Red Wing.
“The second one he came in and lifted my stick. I guess (the refs) just didn’t see it,” Crawford said.
Then, in overtime, Pavel Datsyuk buried the game-winner as Crawford and Steve Montador appeared to be glued to the ice with no way of getting up. Replays showed that Montador may have been held, but it was unclear if his stick was just tangled with one of the Red Wings.
Asked after the game if Detroit got away with a few penalties, Viktor Stalberg said: “Maybe. I don’t want to blame the refs. We’ve done that enough the last couple games and that doesn’t seem to be helping our cause.”
Pressed after the game about the lack of calls, head coach Joel Quenneville strategically dodged the question, saying they “could have used a couple more power plays.”
Unfortunately, the Blackhawks may have lost something more serious than the game. Sharp didn’t return to the ice after the first period, suffering an upper body injury. Quenneville didn’t give any further information after the game, saying they would know more Monday. Asked if the injury was serious, he said: “We’ll see.”
With the loss, the Red Wings have now pulled even with the Blackhawks with 53 points.
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.