The Chicago Blackhawks came into the action tonight looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses to open the season. They did not look good against the Colorado Avalanche, going down quickly and not being able to come back. They did mount a comeback to tie the game late on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils, forcing the game to go to overtime before falling to a beautiful Jack Hughes goal. The Blackhawks looked to maintain that positive momentum moving into the third game of the season. The lineup stayed the same for the Blackhawks, with the lone exception being Marc-Andre Fleury coming in for Kevin Lankinen, who had just played the night before.
Well, does this sound familiar? Fifteen seconds into the game, Teddy Blueger got the puck after the face-off and put it on net, with it sneaking through Fleury’s pads and just across the line, 1–0 Penguins. This is just after letting up the first goal of the game 17 seconds into the game on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils.
The Blackhawks caught a lucky break when they got caught with four players inside of the red circles. The Penguins got down the ice for a 2-on-1 and Jason Zucker put one off of the post behind Fleury. They would not catch another break, however, as Fleury misplayed the puck behind his own net at the 14:27 mark of the period, and the Penguins made quick work of putting it in the back of the net on a Drew O’Connor backhand shot to make it 2–0 Penguins.
— NHL with WWF Commentary (@NhlWwf) October 17, 2021
The Blackhawks gave up the first power play of the game on a high stick from Kirby Dach. The Penguins got several good shots on Fleury, but were unable to make anything happen on that man advantage. The Blackhawks were not able to make much happen thereafter either, as they seemingly refused to even attempt to put the puck on the net and instead decided that they needed every player on the ice to touch the puck.
After the one shot they did get, they let up yet another 2-on-1 break with the previous goal scorer O’Connor getting the puck across to Brock McGinn, who buried it on a one-timer, 3–0 Penguins.
Not even 30 seconds later, the Penguins broke back into the offensive zone, with Danton Heinen getting a shot over the shoulder of Fleury and off the bar and down, 4–0 Penguins.
The first period ended in a strange way, with the glass behind the net getting broken and needing to be repaired before play could continue, with 40 seconds left in the frame. It would lead to the last bit of time being played just before the second period would begin.
The Blackhawks finally got something going on the power play, with Seth Jones sending a great pass across to Patrick Kane, who was able to snipe it past Tristan Jarry to make it 4–1 Penguins.
The Blackhawks looked a lot livelier after that goal, moving the puck better and generating more turnovers and chances to score. They really put some good pressure on the Penguins, with Jarry playing for more than two minutes without his stick after making a save. Falling behind by the margin they did proved to be a difficult task to overcome, however, and they were unable to put any more goals past Jarry at even strength.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) October 17, 2021
Dach took a penalty for roughing in coming to the aid of Alex DeBrincat, who took a slash from McGinn after Dach got a nice shot on goal. The Blackhawks were able to kill this penalty off as well, as this became a 4-on-4 situation when Jeff Carter tripped up MacKenzie Entwistle.
With 2:05 remaining in the frame, Lankinen made a great first stop on a Kasperi Kaponen redirect, with the rebound going out to the right side and Zucker right there to put it past him, making it 5–1 Penguins. The period would end with the score a massive five to a tiny one.
The third period started off with more of the same, with over 12 minutes of back and forth without a whistle in the game until Lankinen had to make a nice stop on the encroaching Penguins offense.
The Blackhawks were able to get another back with 4:03 remaining off of a Penguins turnover. The puck got to one of the most dangerous passers in hockey in Kane, who passed it over to Brandon Hagel, who got it over to Dach to put it past Jarry and get the Blackhawks to a three-goal deficit, 5–2 Penguins.
🚨Dach goal🚨 pic.twitter.com/41Nn4JPggN
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 17, 2021
The game would end with the same feeling it began with: Lots of uncertainty about when this roster may be able to put things together, especially in the 5-on-5 area.
The Blackhawks needed so desperately to show a better effort than they did tonight in order to instill any confidence that the changes that they made this offseason are going to lead to improvement. Something has to be done about the abysmal 5-on-5 play to this point in the season, as the defensive breakdowns and offensive zone mishaps have to be limited from where they currently are if this team is to be a competitive force this season. They need to find the competitive fire and be better prepared to face the other good opponents who they will face this season.
The Blackhawks look to get into the win column against the New York Islanders at the United Center on Tuesday. Game time is 7 p.m. CDT on ESPN.