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Defense falls apart late in 4-3 OT loss

After a 4-3 overtime road loss to the Buffalo Sabers on Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson they talked about learning lessons.

“We gave up two points last night (against the Edmonton Oilers) and tonight we gave up one point,” he said during NBC Sports Chicago’s postgame broadcast.

The difference is on Thursday in the last minute against the Oilers.The Hawks showed resilience to tie the score during a battle on the mound, and the best talent in the attack just delivered another great performance.

The Hawks have done as much damage to themselves as Chablis.

“I thought they really outplayed us in the first period,” Richardson said.

The Hawks found their footing and scored three straight goals, Jason Dickinson on the power play midway through the first and Sam Lafferty and Taylor Reddish in the second.

The Hawks had early penalty trouble — trips to the penalty box becoming a problem — and the Sabers won on Viktor Olafsson’s first goal.

But the Hawks couldn’t keep the puck in the zone for some time in their game, especially in the third. In accordance with NaturalStatTrick.comThe Sabers had as many scoring chances (three) as the Hawks during five-on-four play in Game 3.

“They’re a good team, they play hard, they roll hard, but I thought we gave them opportunities in the third period, which was disappointing,” Richardson said.

Mistakes by the Hawks paved the way for Tage Thompson’s two goals in the third and Olafsson’s game-winning goal 36 seconds into overtime.

“The good part about this is we have a chance … to get them back at home tomorrow,” Richardson said. The Hawks host the Minnesota Wild on Sunday (6 p.m., NBCSCH).

Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game.

Sabers right wing Tage Thompson (72) celebrates his goal with teammates in the third period against the Blackhawks on Saturday in Buffalo, New York.

At times, the Hawks either didn’t put a body on the Sabers in the crease, or gave up easy looks in the slot, or seemed to have communication issues figuring out who was supposed to cover whom.

Take Thompson’s second goal, for example.

Kyle Okposa of the Sabers makes a pass behind the net to Jeff Skinner. Seth Jones struck out Okposo and singled to Skinner. But Max Domi went from defending in Arvid Söderblom’s gloves to chasing Skinner behind the net.

Jared Tinordi jumped in to help protect Söderblom’s stick side, and Philip Kurashov followed, also looking at Skinner.

No one noticed Thompson sneaking up on Söderblom’s glove side — except for Patrick Kane from the throw-in — until it was too late. Skinner sent a backdoor pass to Thompson to tie the game at 3.

Richardson spoke generally about the defense in the third.

“Unfortunately (we made) just a couple of mistakes in the D-zone, maybe not clearing the puck, trying to protect the lead instead of continuing the game and playing smart,” he said.

Blackhawks goalie Arvid Soderblom makes a save against Sabers right wing Jay Jay Peterka during the first period Saturday in Buffalo, New York

Soderblom made his season debut and his fourth professional start, but what a contrast he is to Alex Stalock.

While Stalock’s high-flying act leaves you with equal parts excitement and apprehension, Söderblom just calmly shrugs off dangerous situations and goes about his business.

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He conceded four goals but made 41 saves.

Not to make excuses for him, but the defense has been inconsistent at best, lax and confused at worst. The Sabers had 16 high-danger chances in five-on-five play and 22 chances overall.

It’s unacceptable, and it didn’t resemble what the Hawks’ defense looked like (for the most part) under Richardson in the previous seven games.

With Petr Mrazek for an indefinite periodSoderblom will likely get a fresh start to get a better look at how much progress he’s made since the offseason.

Stalock vouched for him after Friday’s practice.

“Arvid’s maturity level is incredible,” he said. “At his age (23), I wasn’t even close to him. The skill level, the size (6-foot-3, 179 pounds), the pure awareness, his moves, it’s an incredible ability for young guys right now, and he’s ready to go.”

Richardson lived a charmed life with challenges.

  • The Oilers lost a field goal challenge in the second period on Thursday. On-ice officials changed their ruling to disallow Evander Kane’s goal, and after a call from Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft, they upheld it, concluding that Kane interfered with Stalock.
  • In a first-period penalty shootout on Saturday, Richardson won his first challenge when the officials ruled Casey Mittelstadt was offside before Olafsson scored. Olafsson still scored eight seconds later.
  • Later in the first, on a wild drive in the Craig Anderson crease, Dickinson somehow poked the puck into the net to put the Hawks on the board. In fact, there was such confusion that the officials called Mackenzie Entwistle the scorer and then switched back to Dickinson. Sabers coach Don Granato called for a call on the goaltender, but after a video review, the goal was upheld.


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