Blackhawks

Blackhawks can't hold off Ducks, fall to eighth

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Blackhawks can't hold off Ducks, fall to eighth

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Posted 10:04 p.m. Updated 10:56 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

During their five-game home winning streak, the Chicago Blackhawks were holding onto third period leads instead of squandering them.

But on Saturday night, a bad late-game habit once again cost them.

Hossa: This one definitely hurts

Corey Perry scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner with 4:30 remaining in regulation, as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Blackhawks 2-1 at the United Center.

The loss flipped the Ducks and Blackhawks in the standings, with Anaheim moving up to seventh and the Hawks falling back to eighth. It was a big game, and the Blackhawks were stinging after not even coming away with a point.

The Blackhawks had kept the third-period push on during their latest run at home. They were looking for another goal, keeping their opponents on their heels. But on Saturday, that wasnt there. The Ducks, meanwhile, took advantage down the stretch.

That was a tough ending and obviously it was a brutal loss, coach Joel Quenneville said. Maybe a little higher push to get the second goal wouldve put us in a good spot. We were happy in that contain mode. We shouldve been pushing.

The Blackhawks went up 1-0 thanks to Marian Hossas goal about 13 minutes into the first period. But after some early solid offerings on Ducks goaltender Ray Emery, the Blackhawks good scoring opportunities lessened.

Sometimes we tried to look for a better play instead of looking for the rebound and ugly goals, Hossa said. We tried to be a little too cute and against a defensive team like this sometimes thats not going to work.

Corey Crawford staved off the Ducks chances through two-plus periods before Anaheims top line struck. A Blackhawks miscue led to a 3-on-2 for Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Perry, with Perry tying it barely a minute into the third period.

(The top three) dont need much opportunity to score, and we gave them a couple chances, and I think maybe I could have done a better job there on the first one, Duncan Keith said. Its tough, they make quick plays on their backhands, and theyre tough to read.

Perry added his NHL-leading 44th of the season with less than five minutes remaining.

Getting it to (overtime) was probably on both teams minds at the time. They got the break, Quenneville said. All three guys (Ducks top line) have great vision, puck possession and finishing ability. We have to know when theyre on the ice we have to be smart.

Now the Blackhawks quest for a playoff spot gets tougher. They leave Sunday for a three-game road trip, which includes games at Detroit and Boston on back-to-back nights. Theyve got two more games against the Red Wings after that.

Tough? Yes. Impossible? Hardly. But as the Blackhawks go forward, they have to stop committing the mistakes of the past.

This definitely hurts, Hossa said. Obviously we play a solid two periods and two goals in the third and we couldnt come back. Thats definitely a tough pill to swallow. We have to just dig ourselves out of it and make sure it cant happen again. The games are running down and this one was really important.

Kruger adjusting

Marcus Krugers linemates Troy Brouwer and Bryan Bickell said the young Swede is adjusting to the NHL game and his new Blackhawks teammates.

He defends well. He said he was nervous before the game so me and Bicks were trying to help him with that, Brouwer said. Everyones been there. My first game, I dont even remember half the game. Its tough sometimes but he did really well.

Kruger wasnt afraid to show a scrappy side, either, pushing a few Florida Panthers around in his debut on Wednesday.

He had a little bit of feistiness around the net, a little bit of pressure, Brouwer said. It was good to see him get right into the mix. When youre in the mix youre in the game.
Briefly

Brian Campbell was honored as Blackhawks Man of the Year prior to Saturday nights game.

John Scott was the lone healthy scratch on Saturday night.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Florida Panthers Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

(Reminder: Use #AskEdzo on social media and your questions may be answered by Eddie Olczyk, who will be in studio along with Adam Burish, Brian Campbell and Pat Boyle).

1. Another fast start coming?

The Blackhawks had one of their best starts of the season Wednesday in Tampa Bay, and the numbers favor Chicago to dictate the pace of play early again.

The Panthers are tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the fewest goals scored in the first period (13), and have taken a lead into the second period only four times (3-1-0) in 21 games. They are 2-7-1 in the 10 games they've trailed after the opening frame.

The Blackhawks, on the other hand, are tied for fourth when it comes to first-period goals (22) — albeit, five of them came on Opening Night against Pittsburgh — but they are just 4-2-2 in eight games when leading after one period. In fact, they took a 2-0 lead into the second in their most recent game against the Lightning and lost in overtime 3-2.

So while a fast start could certainly be in the cards, the finish must also be there.

2. Take advantage on special teams.

The Panthers are one of two teams ranked among the bottom six in both power play percentage (26th at 16.0) and penalty kill percentage (30th at 73.2).

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are coming in hot in both areas. They're 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) on the man advantage in their last four games, and own the fourth-best penalty kill unit (84.8 percent).

This is the area to exploit for the Blackhawks going into the matchup, and it could decide the game.

3. Feed Lance Bouma!

In his seventh season, Bouma has faced every NHL team at least five times in his career, with the exception of Vegas (pointless in one game this season).

Bouma is not known for his offensive prowess (72 points in 325 career games), but it's a different story when he plays Florida.

In six career games against the Panthers, Bouma has one goal, six assists and a career-high plus-8 rating. That one goal also happens to be one of his six career game winners.

Florida is the only team Bouma is averaging at least a point-per-game against for his career, so you know what that means: Feed No. 17!

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.