Blackhawks go silent in shutout loss to Kings


Blackhawks go silent in shutout loss to Kings

Eighteen seconds. It was a time span the Blackhawks would like to replay, forget, something.

Because in 18 seconds the Los Angeles Kings took a lead their goaltender made sure the Blackhawks wouldn’t get near challenging.

Kris Versteeg had a goal and an assist against his former team and Jonathan Quick stopped all 32 shots he saw as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Blackhawks 5-0 on Monday night. The Blackhawks, who have won just one of their last five games (1-3-1), remain in third place in the Central Division with 88 points. The first-place Dallas Stars (91 points) were idle and the second-place St. Louis Blues (also 91 points) lost to the Calgary Flames.

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Quick was big early when the Blackhawks got nine shots on their first two power plays. He stayed strong throughout, and the Kings gave him plenty of offense on the other side.

Corey Crawford allowed five goals on 25 shots.

The Blackhawks did exactly what they wanted to in those first three minutes, firing five shots on their first power play. But just 17 seconds after that power play ended, Versteeg scored his first goal since being traded to the Kings; just 18 seconds after that, Milan Lucic’s goal made it 2-0.

Those few seconds, and the mistakes that occurred on them, hurt.

“Yeah, certainly didn’t help,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I liked the start, we collided with each other off the faceoff, fortunate bounce off two skates right to Steeger, and then the next one we give them a semi odd-man break, we’re down 2-0 right out of the gate. That’s exactly how you don’t want to begin a game. We couldn’t get one to get energy going.”

The Blackhawks weren’t good at either end of the ice in this one. They struggled to do anything offensively. Part of that was Quick. Part of that is the Blackhawks still not finding enough production from other lines, especially now that the second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane have gone through a cool streak.

“Couple quick goals we give up and after that everything snowballs in the wrong direction for us,” Jonathan Toews said. “We couldn’t help our goaltender. Crow’s been unreal for us all year and these two games we’ve kind of hung him out to try. Collectively as a team, everyone’s to blame. At the end of the day, tough couple of games.”

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The Blackhawks have had a tough time finding consistency for some time now. They went on a 12-game winning streak in late December/January. They’re 9-10-2 since. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a team looking to stay atop the Central Division.

“We’ve had a tougher schedule, we’ve had some tough games. During this stretch our penalty killing hasn’t been great. Some nights it could’ve won us some games, getting the job done,” Quenneville said. “But that [winning streak] was a stretch where we made a lot of hay and put ourselves in a great spot. Now we’re not taking advantage of it, which is disappointing.”

The Blackhawks are still in the Central Division title hunt, despite these games. Still, they realize they need to be playing better hockey, and they need to start playing it now.

“You go in stretches where you win 12 in a row and we have this stretch now. We obviously want to shore that up before the playoffs and make sure we’re going in feeling consistent about our game,” Kane said. “We’ve been in a few of these games where they’ve been blowouts and we’ve been on the wrong side of them. We need to get rid of that, too.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?