When push has come to shove this season, the Chicago Blackhawks have almost always ended up on the short end of the stick.
That certainly was the case during a devastating 3-2 loss Tuesday night to Calgary at the United Center as the Hawks had a second-period Ryan Hartman goal overturned, failed on four of five power plays and failed to beat a lethargic Flames team that managed just 12 shots on goal through 40 minutes.
Calgary beat the Hawks for the second time in four days thanks in large part to Michael Stone’s goal that gave the Flames a 2-1 lead with 3:30 left in the game.
“I don’t know what to say right now. It’s pretty frustrating,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “I thought we played pretty good hockey at times. Had a lot of good chances.”
The Hawks (24-21-8, 56 points) are a whopping 7 points out of the wild-card picture with 29 games to play.
A winning streak of any kind — even two or three games — might give coach Joel Quenneville’s squad some hope. Some belief that they can crawl out of this canyon.
The problem is, they can’t get any traction to get such a streak started, and the mood in the dressing room is a somber mess.
“When you win, everybody feels good about themselves,” Quenneville said. “You know that you’re contributing in a positive way. It’s all about the team and contributing to the structure of your team.
“You win one, all of a sudden you get a couple and there’s a little bit of a feeling of, ‘We’re going to find a way here.’ And that’s what we’ve got to look to do.”
The Hawks appeared to go ahead 2-1 when Hartman got a puck past Mike Smith with 16:07 remaining in the second period. Hartman fell into Smith in the crease, however, and the Flames had the goal overturned after coach Glen Gulutzan challenged goaltender interference.
“I mean the call on the ice was a goal,” Hartman said. “They took eight minutes to try to look for it. They looked pretty hard.”
While Quenneville said the call could have gone either way, he’s not a big fan of how reviews can sap the energy out of a crowd.
“Whether they get it right or not, I still don’t know if that’s the best thing for slowing down the pace and the excitement of a building,” he said. “But that works both ways, and you can have some positive developments on that same sort of play.”
Enough about that play, though. The Hawks had plenty of other chances to put away a Flames team that went through all kinds of travel delays and didn’t land at O’Hare until 11:30 Monday night.
In the end, only Alex DeBrincat’s power-play goal 3:35 into the first period and Patrick Kane’s with 5.1 seconds left in the game managed to get past Smith.
A contest that seemed destined for overtime took an ugly turn for the Hawks when Stone’s shot from just inside the blue line found its way through a maze of players and sticks.
It appeared the puck may have deflected off the high stick of Johnny Gaudreau before getting past Jeff Glass, but the refs didn’t see it that way and the goal stood.
The Flames made it 3-1 on an empty-net goal by Sean Monahan with 1:51 remaining, which made Kane’s last-second goal moot.