Blackhawks

Niemi says no; Sharks get revenge on Hawks

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Niemi says no; Sharks get revenge on Hawks

Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010
Updated 1:30 AM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

SAN JOSE, Calif. The Chicago Blackhawks found so much success in Vancouver because they played strong with very few mistakes. Errors, especially the opportunistic ones, can be costly.

The San Jose Sharks reminded them of that on Wednesday night.

Blackhawks turnovers led to critical goals, and Antti Niemi got the victory against his former team in a 5-2 Sharks win at HP Pavilion. The Blackhawks are now 2-2-0 on this long road trip, which wraps up with games in Anaheim and Los Angeles over the weekend.

Jake Dowell and Patrick Sharp scored for the Blackhawks. Marty Turco allowed four goals on 28 shots.

The Sharks were doling out the hits from the start on the Blackhawks. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks kept up the tempo and were getting their share of shots on Niemi. The former Blackhawks goaltender stopped 30 of 32.

Maybe during the warmup, seeing the guys on the opposite side, it started to feel like more than just a normal game, Niemi said. I didnt think about it too much, but of course getting a win against them is huge, and on home ice, too. It was great.

Said Brian Campbell, obviously we had some opportunities but we needed to get to the net more. Not to take anything away from him, but he was definitely beatable.

But then the Blackhawks made a few mistakes, and the Sharks pounced on them. Nick Boynton made two costly passes toward the middle that ended up on Sharks sticks and, soon after, in the Blackhawks net. The second, a Joe Pavelski goal, gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead.

He got behind a little on the one, coach Joel Quenneville said. The other ones got to get down the ice. I dont know if we needed to make a play there.

The Sharks physical play also put the Blackhawks on the power play a few times, including twice after boarding calls. But the Blackhawks couldnt muster anything. They also came up empty on a 5-on-3 advantage for 44 seconds in the second period when they were down 3-1.

Yeah we had a couple good looks at it, but we needed to make another play or finish it off, Quenneville said. That was a good opportunity to get ourselves one there. We couldve cashed in there but we didnt.

Jonathan Toews said, We just have to be better on our power play and penalty kill. That makes a huge difference for us against a team like that. We werent good enough in both those areas.

Mistakes proved costly at the end, too. Dowell took a delay-of-game penalty in the third, and Patrick Marleau got around Jassen Cullimore to solidify the Sharks lead at 4-2. Marleau added an empty netter with three seconds remaining.

The Blackhawks were chasing throughout this one as a result of those mistakes. Its not a situation they want to find themselves in often.

I didnt mind our start. We had zone time and were ready to play, Quenneville said. But at the same time, I didnt like having to play from behind all night.

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night:
 
1. Nick Schmaltz returns but sizzle doesn’t.

You didn’t expect the fireworks of the season opener but you figured Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman and Patrick Kane would connect pretty quickly again. The speed was certainly there. The connections on passes were not. It wasn’t just that second line, though: it was another night on which the Blackhawks’ offense was sluggish. 
 
2. Tripping along.

I joked that tripping is the new slashing. Maybe that’s not the case league-wide but it was for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks took five tripping penalties overall, including three in the first period. It was a clear sign that the Blackhawks were trying to play catch-up all night, and they didn’t fare well at it.
 
3. Power play gets something but…

It took until late in the third period (when the Blackhawks’ offense seems to get going lately). The Blackhawks got two late power-play goals, a reminder of what they can do when they battle for the puck and show some spark.

“Our sense of urgency in the puck area, be it 5-on-5 or on the power play, that’s the differential of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and making plays off it is one of our strengths,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t do that very often and we haven’t won many battles.”
 
4. Starting slow.

Why these are happening is a mystery, and they’ve been most evident in the Blackhawks’ last three games, which have all come against division opponents. Too much relying on Corey Crawford again and not much in terms of shots, be it quality or quantity through the first two periods. The Blackhawks were outshot 17-8 through the first 40 minutes on Wednesday. While they created little they gave up way too much.
 
5. Patrick Sharp OK?

Sharp was injured late on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks-Blues game got chippy in the final five-plus minutes. Quenneville thought Sharp was fine but he wasn’t positive at the time of his postgame press conference.

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

ST. LOUIS – The Blackhawks’ first tripping came barely a minute into the game. Then came another one. And another. And another. And another. Despite welcoming one of their fastest players back into the lineup, the Blackhawks were overall flat-footed and playing catch-up all night, be it on the ice or on the scoreboard, to the St. Louis Blues.

Nick Schmaltz returned but the effect on the second line and the Blackhawks overall wasn’t immediate. Instead the Blackhawks looked sluggish. Their offensive opportunities were few – a one and done here and there but no sustained zone time or pressure on Blues goaltender Jake Allen – their passing was off and they were on the defensive all night.

And then there were the tripping penalties. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill held up through it, nullifying all five Blues power-play opportunities. But the Blues found other ways to inflict their damage.

“They played well and we were brutal,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That was a bad start, a bad middle and even [though] it was a little excited at the end it wasn’t very good. That’s as close to brutal as you can get.”

The Blackhawks’ last three games have common themes: they’re outshot for a good part of the game, they’re giving up a good amount of quality shots and then the urgency hits them midway through the third period. For the third consecutive contest the Blackhawks scored two goals late and in two of those three games it wasn’t nearly enough.

“Obviously it wasn’t good enough for two periods. If you take any positives out of this game, it’s the way we played in the third,” Patrick Kane said. “At least we know we can do it. Just gotta do it before our backs are against the wall.”

Why it’s taking the Blackhawks so long to get going, however, is the question. Obviously the Blackhawks’ late third-period pushes show how capable they are of producing when necessary. Said Alex DeBrincat, who assisted on Ryan Hartman’s goal late in regulation, “If we’re would’ve been crashing the net like that all game it may have been a different story.”

But they didn’t. The Blackhawks welcomed back a teammate that’s injected speed into their lineup but the team was once again stumbling out of the gate.

“We’re supposed to be out there, giving our all every minute we’re out there and every shift, go out there and take it a shift at a time and give it all you got every shift,” Hartman said. “We have four lines that can roll so there’s no excuse for not going out there and putting all your energy out there for a shift and getting ready for the next one.”