WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The Blackhawks have been doing plenty right defensively since they lost Duncan Keith. They’ve given up little, recording consecutive shutout victories against Tampa Bay and Anaheim.
The problem is, they’ve generated little on the other side. And on Thursday night, that caught up with them.
Patrick Kane scored his sixth goal of the season, a power-play goal, but the Blackhawks were otherwise quiet in the scoring department in their 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. It was the third consecutive game in which the Blackhawks managed just one goal, and the outing snapped their four-game winning streak.
Corey Crawford stopped 28 of 31 shots; his goal-less streak ended with Blake Wheeler’s goal about eight minutes into the first period. Up to that point, Crawford allowed nothing for 141 minutes, 33 seconds.
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On the other side, Kane’s power-play goal was the team’s first regulation goal in 141:09. Five-on-five goals, however, remain elusive; the Blackhawks last scored one of those 4:02 into the first period (Artem Anisimov) against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 22.
Michael Hutchinson had another strong outing against the Blackhawks, stopping 45 of the 46 shots he faced.
Even though the Blackhawks have four consecutive victories, including those back-to-back shutout triumphs, the lack of goal scoring is getting frustrating.
“Yeah. You know especially tonight, I think we had some chances to score some goals,” said Kane. “Give their goalie credit. But I think at this point and time, we can do things a little bit better to try and make it tougher on their goalie: try to get to the net, stay at the net, get shots through, get rebounds, try to bang in goals that way. Get some dirty goals because it seems like all the pretty plays aren’t really happening for us. We can do a better job of trying to get some ugly ones.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks needed to make life tougher on Hutchinson.
“I wish we had more disruption at the net. I thought he made a lot of saves without traffic and I think that a lot of goalies will shine on a night like that,” he said. “I thought we worked hard but I don’t think we played with much of a purpose tonight.”
The Blackhawks had that purpose early in this one, with Kane scoring on the power play just 1:26 into the game. At one point, they were outshooting the Jets 8-1. But Wheeler scored the first of three unanswered Jets goals about seven minutes later.
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Again, the shots were there but the quality really wasn’t.
“Maybe not, but I think there’s still some good efforts in around the net where we just couldn’t quite finish second efforts,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think that’s what we’re looking for, especially when you’re not scoring, to try to make the pretty plays, I think we had a couple situations where we did try that. Obviously we want to keep shooting the puck from anywhere and go for those second efforts and those rebounds. That’s how we’re going to break through.”
The Blackhawks miss Keith on both sides of the puck. They’re doing pretty well on preventing goals. Scoring them has been much tougher, but the Blackhawks are trying not to get too frustrated.
“What choice do you have? Let it get to you and it can only get worse if you do. At the end of the day, it’s up to us,” Toews said. “Maybe there’s pressure on the outside to really show our frustration, show that we care, but that doesn’t really make much of a difference for us. Obviously, it happens sometimes. But the best thing we can do is stay with it and keep working for it. We’re doing a lot of good things other than that, and eventually the scoring will come.”