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10 observations: Stalock shines again but Blackhawks lose to Blues

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The Blackhawks fell to the St. Louis Blues 3-1 at Enterprise Center on Thursday.

Here are 10 observations from the loss:

1. The Blackhawks had a solid first period, but it would've been better if Jack Johnson's pass in the opening minutes didn't go off an official's skate and lead directly to the first goal of the game. I'm sure Johnson is a little mad at himself for not realizing the official was right there but equally frustrated the official was in his passing lane. Johnson's reaction said it all:

2. Boris Katchouk gave Blues defenseman Calle Rosen a late Christmas present with a gift of a goal in the second period to put the home team in front 2-1. He was looking to pass it to Colin Blackwell in the slot but Blackwell expected him to ring it around the boards. It was just not a smart play by Katchouk and a costly mistake. The goal turned out to be the game-winner.

3. Alex Stalock picked up exactly where he left off from his last start and, most notably, made a handful of high-quality saves in the second period, where the Blackhawks were shutout 15-5. If it wasn't for the Katchouk turnover, it would've been a perfect period for Stalock, who finished with 26 saves on 28 shots for a save percentage of .929. He deserved better.

4. Taylor Raddysh had a Grade-A scoring chance at the end of the first period to potentially put the Blackhawks ahead 2-1. At the end of his shift after coming out of the penalty box, Raddysh sprung loose for a breakaway but was stopped by Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington, who has never lost to the Blackhawks in regulation (6-0-1). Missed opportunity.

5. Patrick Kane had a quiet night against Carolina on Tuesday, but he put the Blackhawks on the board with a power-play goal midway through the first period to make it 1-1. It was his only shot of the night though, and he was also dinged with four giveaways. 

6. The Blackhawks went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill against Carolina and 2-for-2 against St. Louis. They had previously given up a power-play goal in eight straight. That's progress.

7. Brayden Schenn had shots on goal in the first period alone. He finished with 11 total, which surpassed his previous career-high of nine. Prior to this game, Schenn had recorded more than three shots in a game just once this season.

8. I thought the third line of Andreas Athanasiou, Jason Dickinson and Sam Lafferty had another strong game together. There's a lot of speed among the three of them. They just didn't have anything to show for it again.

9. I would be surprised if pending unrestricted free agents Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko aren't traded ahead of the March 3 deadline. Tarasenko has made it known he won't re-sign with the Blues, and O'Reilly could fetch them a nice return if they're looking to usher in a new core. The Blues have been wildly inconsistent this season.

10. Connor Bedard has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) through three games for Team Canada at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. That's not a typo. He is putting on a show so far, if you need another reminder of why the Blackhawks are rebuilding. For a franchise-changing player like him.

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