The Blackhawks had nowhere to go but nowhere in the standings Tuesday night at the United Center.
The Hawks guaranteed they could not improve their standing there no matter the outcome in the second game of the home-and-home against the Flames, which they lost 3-2 to extend their overall losing streak to three, and their home skid to five.
“I don’t know what to say,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “It’s pretty frustrating. I thought we played pretty good hockey at times, had a lot of good chances. … We can whine about two calls going upstairs and not going our way but … we have to keep working for results.”
It took 8 minutes and the second of two reviews to take away what would have been Ryan Hartman’s go-ahead goal in the second period for the Blackhawks. Hartman fell down – or was pushed down – in front of the net, the puck went in, hugs were exchanged, and the Hawks thought they led 2-1.
On a first review, it was determined Hartman did not kick the puck in, but a second look at the play erased the goal when it was decided Hartman had interfered with Flames goalie Mike Smith.
Hartman was denied what would have been his first goal in 14 games after the league ruled “Hartman prevented Smith from doing his job in the crease.”
Boos poured as the scoreboard rewound to 1-1.
“The only explanation I got was that my skates touched the goalie and they thought it was goalie interference,” Hartman said. “I didn’t lunge at the goalie. I didn’t go into the goalie. The call on the ice was a goal.
“They took 8 minutes to try to look for [the penalty]. They looked pretty hard.”
Replay officials didn’t need to look as hard to determine that the go-ahead goal awarded to Michael Stone with 3:30 left in the third hadn’t hit a high stick, as Hawks goalie Jeff Glass had immediately pleaded.
Stone’s goal stood, and the Flames added an empty-netter before Patrick Kane made it 3-2 in the final seconds.
For the first time in a long time, the Hawks appear to be in over their heads in the playoff race. They’re last in the Central Division. They are seven points and four teams shy of the second wild-card spot after three teams ahead of them in that race won Tuesday.
The pressure meter keeps rising.
“It has been that way for 20 games already,” Toews said. “That’s not changing. We know the urgency is mounting more and more every single game we play.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville admitted his team’s in a tough spot, but ...
“We still have a lot of hockey to play,” he said. “Let’s find a way to get something. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, because no one else is going to.”
Alex DeBrincat put the Hawks ahead 1-0 with 16:25 left in the first when he deposited Jordan Oesterle’s pass past Smith, the 14th straight Hawks goal scored by a player 23 or younger.
It also was DeBrincat’s fifth goal in five games and his 19th overall, putting him second behind Kane on the Hawks, and second among rookies this season.
Glass preserved a 1-1 tie when he stopped Mikael Backlund’s shorthanded breakaway with the tip of his skate while his body was headed the opposite direction 1:35 into the third.
“Closer toward the end of the season, you realize your opportunities are numbered,” Toews said. “We just have to do what we can and focus on the next game.”