Blackhawks

Blackhawks shoot blanks as skid reaches three

353637.jpg

Blackhawks shoot blanks as skid reaches three

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011
Posted 9:33 PM Updated 10:39 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. The Chicago Blackhawks have had trouble keeping other teams off the scoreboard in third periods. Too often this season, a tie or slim lead has turned into a loss late.

But on Sunday, the Blackhawks had one of their stronger third-period performances against the Anaheim Ducks. Unfortunately, it still didnt reap any rewards.

Bryan Bickell scored his 11th goal of the season but the Blackhawks could manage nothing else despite a late flurry of shots in a 2-1 loss to the Ducks at the Honda Center on Sunday. The Blackhawks lost their third consecutive game.

It wasnt for lack of trying in the third, when the Blackhawks fired 19 of their 40 shots on Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller. But whether it was Hillers stellar stops or bad luck, the Blackhawks couldnt muster a goal.

Hiller stopped Jack Skilles tying attempt with a goal-line glove save that was briefly reviewed. Viktor Stalberg thought he tied it late but his shot, aimed for a gaping net, deflected off Dave Bollands stick.

We almost tied it at the end and it goes off one of our guys stick right before its going into the net. That pretty much sums it up right there, goaltender Corey Crawford said. We played good enough to win this game.

Stalberg was about to raise his hands to celebrate before seeing what happened.

I just saw the puck go past the goalie and past everyone else, so I assumed it was in the net, Stalberg said. But it hit a blade and its not even their player. We had a couple of bad breaks in that period that shouldve gone in the net. Thats the way it goes.

The Blackhawks had 21 shots in the first two periods combined. But the quality chances were definitely in the third and not getting at least one of those in left the team frustrated.

It just seemed like the puck was just in front of the net bouncing over our sticks at the last second for some reason. It was just unlucky, Skille said. We just have to get grittier in front of the net, get into puck areas and make sure the next time we have opportunities we have to bear down.

Patrick Kane said it seems like we turned it up in the third and played a different style of hockey. We play like that the whole game I dont think many teams are going to beat us.

The Blackhawks could be getting captain Jonathan Toews back for Monday nights game against Los Angeles, which is definitely good news. The bad news is theyre missing opportunities to get valuable points. The Western Conference is tight and will continue to be so. The Blackhawks dont want to get too far behind in the race.

Every games going to be important all year long. They keep getting bigger and bigger as we go along here, coach Joel Quenneville said. We have to respond to the challenge and we have to play inspired hockey. That was a good third period for us. We needed to generate more scoring chances in the first 40.

Briefly

Blackhawks center Jake Dowell did not play at all in the third period. Quenneville said Jakes fine, but didnt elaborate on why he didnt play during the final period.

Crawford stopped 16 of 18 shots in his first game back from the flu that he suffered from through the Christmas break. My timing was a little off in the first and felt pretty good in the second and third.

Nick Boynton and John Scott were the Blackhawks healthy scratches on Sunday.

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

11-25_fla_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg

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.