CHICAGO — All four of the Chicago Blackhawks games this season have been decided in overtime, which has already created its fair share of drama for a team attempting to bounce back from missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
The Blackhawks have seen a resurgence from captain Jonathan Toews and yet must remain patient for starting goaltender Corey Crawford to overcome concussion symptoms that he has been experiencing since leaving the lineup last December.
So as Chicago prepares to welcome the St. Louis Blues to the United Center on Saturday, the Blackhawks remain, in many ways, a mystery regarding what is to come as the season gets rolling.
The Blackhawks (2-0-2) will attempt to bounce back from a stinging 4-3 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday when Chicago held a lead with 30 seconds remaining in the third period only to watch Cam Ward allow the tying goal with 23 seconds left in regulation and then another goal in overtime.
“They sting because you know (the victory) is right there,” Ward told reporters, according to The Athletic, after finishing the loss with 42 saves. “…You know things we’ll look at and try to work on at being better at closing it out late in the third period. You know the guys worked hard. It was right there for us like I said.”
Crawford is expected to return to game action next week, but Ward — who has been inconsistent in his four starts this season — knows that as the Blackhawks attempt to establish their footing early on, he has to do his part. That starts Saturday against the Blues, a team the Blackhawks have already defeated in overtime this season.
“I’m motivated to stop the puck — that’s my job,” Ward said Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Meanwhile, the Blues (1-1-1) will travel to Chicago fresh off a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday.
The victory, thanks largely to David Perron‘s hat trick and three assists from Brayden Schenn, finally put the Blues in the win column.
St. Louis reached the five-goal plateau after twice surrendering five goals in losses to both the Winnipeg Jets and Blackhawks before having most of this week to work out the kinks in practice before returning to game action on Thursday.
Now, with a win out of the way, the Blues will attempt to keep building on Saturday in Chicago.
“We had a good practice week,” Perron told reporters on Thursday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “A lot of people, I think, were starting to panic, but I don’t think the players were. We put in the work this week (and) we just keep going. It’s one win. We’ve got more games ahead soon here. Let’s keep focusing on that.”
On Saturday, the Blues may be without forward Jaden Schwartz, who sustained a lower body injury in the win over the Flames. According to the Post-Dispatch, Schwartz took a shot from teammate Vladimir Tarasenko that went off Schwartz’s right foot about three minutes into Thursday’s game. Schwartz finished the game, but was clearly in pain.
Blues coach Mike Yeo said Schwartz is questionable to doubtful against Chicago.
“I haven’t been told that he’s out for tomorrow,” Yeo told reporters Friday, according to the Post-Dispatch. “It’s certainly not something we expect to be long-term, but he’s a question mark for (Saturday).”