(MCT) — CHICAGO — A particularly deafening ovation from 21,188 in the United Center welcomed home the team with hockey’s best record on Tuesday. But the issue of the moment was where the Blackhawks were headed, as opposed to where they had been or how far they had come.
Stomping through the first dozen games while crisscrossing the map was mere prelude to the opportunity at hand: Seven home games stacked up neatly, and the chance to turn a roaring head start into a massive chasm between the Hawks and everyone chasing them.
And then a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks at the United Center had the club ruing missed opportunities, beginning with a one-goal lead that disappeared in the final minutes of regulation and then two overtime power plays producing nothing despite a fleet of goal-scorers taking the ice for the second.
In the end, it was Nick Bonino and Corey Perry notching shootout scores for the Ducks while Jonathan Toews was the lone Hawks scorer in three tries. It was another point gained and another night without a regulation defeat, but the Hawks still wondered about what was lost.
“In Calgary we were fortunate, tonight we were in the same boat,” coach Joel Quenneville said, referring to the Feb. 2 shootout victory the Hawks stole. “It’s a tough game, the other side is a good hockey team. First game back, you need everything going and to find a way. Almost got to the finish line.”
Corey Crawford kept the Hawks afloat with multiple stirring glove saves. Then Nick Leddy scored a power-play goal in the second period to tie it 1-1, and Brandon Saad followed with a superhero act to thrust the Hawks ahead.
The 20-year-old rookie took a faceoff and rushed into the offensive zone, eventually whipping a shot toward Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth while airborne and creating a mighty commotion in the crease. After a long video deliberation, Saad was awarded a score and the Hawks had a 2-1 edge.
“I was just hoping it went in,” Saad said. “I couldn’t really see and I don’t think anyone really knew. Obviously it was the go-ahead goal, so it was huge for us.”
The lead wasn’t huge enough. Andrew Cogliano knocked home a rebound with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left to tie it, and in overtime, the Hawks couldn’t capitalize on two power plays. The second saw Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp on the ice simultaneously, but it didn’t see any production.
“It’s definitely frustrating when you’re in position to win the game and they tie it up late,” Crawford said after a 29-save night. “I don’t know what else to say. Played another strong game, made some hits to get us going there. It’s just frustrating.”