Blackhawks

3 Takeaways: Joel Quenneville returns to United Center, Patrick Kane honored for 1,000th point

3 Takeaways: Joel Quenneville returns to United Center, Patrick Kane honored for 1,000th point

The Blackhawks lost 4-3 to the Florida Panthers, but welcomed former head coach Joel Quenneville back to Chicago and honored Patrick Kane for capturing his 1,000th NHL point. Here are three takeaways:

Welcome back, "Q"

Quenneville returned to the United Center for the first time since being fired on Nov. 6, 2018. Coach Q now the head coach of the Panthers (third place in the Atlantic Division), received a thunderous ovation during a video tribute from the Hawks organization in the first period. 

"I think that ovation was incredible," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "I think all of us that played for him were all smiles. His ovation might have been bigger than Kaner's, I don't know. Close call. But obviously, the fans showing him lots of respect and love... pretty cool to see."

"Q" guided the Blackhawks through three Stanley Cup championships (2010, 2013, 2015) and helped end a 49-year cup drought in Chicago in 2010. Quenneville returned to face the red-hot Hawks, who had won five-straight games, with his red-hot Panthers, who had also won five straight prior to Tuesday.

"You got to give them a little credit," Quenneville said of Jeremy Colliton's Blackhawks before the game. "They're playing fast, they've got some speed in their lineup. They're quick in all lines. They can score, they're dangerous. 

"I think we've got to be respectful for what their rush game can bring and I think that it was kind of reminiscent when I talk about our team a lot. I say we can always score goals. 

"It's 'try to keep it out of our net' is a priority and we've been scoring a lot of goals and we want to make sure we can get better without the puck, and I think that's been a work in progress for us but it's [a] comparable time in our team's development right now. But we're seeing progress and I think tonight that's going to be a good test of how well we defend."

#PK1K

The Blackhawks held a ceremony before the game to honor Kane for recording his 1,000th NHL point off an assist in Sunday's 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The ceremony included a video of the superstar winger as a small child saying: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the greatest show on earth.”

Kane is the 90th player in NHL history to reach the milestone and the youngest US-born player (31 years, 61 days) to record 1,000 points in the show.

On Tuesday, Kane scored with 1:15 remaining in regulation to bring the Blackhawks within one of the Panthers, extending his point streak to 11 games (five goals, 11 assists), but it wouldn't be enough.

Streak snapped

The Hawks' five-game winning streak ended and they remain three points out of a wild card spot. Their next game won't be until Feb. 1 in Arizona with the All-Star break and bye week. 

A horrid second period is what did the Hawks in on Tuesday. Chicago gave up four second-period goals, including a hat trick from Frank Vatrano. 

The Blackhawks did see contributions from Kirby Dach, who scored off a backhand over Sergei Bobrovsky's shoulder. Dach, who turned 19 on Tuesday, ended a 13-game goal drought, making it 3-1 in the second period. Drake Caggiula scored off a redirect on a third-period power play to make it 4-2. Caggiula has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past four games after returning from a concussion on Jan. 9.

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What we learned about Blackhawks during five-game road trip

What we learned about Blackhawks during five-game road trip

"Every game now is a playoff game, pretty much. We've got to approach it like it's life or death."

Those were the words of Drake Caggiula and that was the mindset for the Blackhawks going into their five-game road trip in Western Canada, which was easily their most important swing of the season to date, given the circumstances. All five teams were ahead of them in the Western Conference standings, the Blackhawks were knocking on the door of a playoff spot and they had a chance to prove themselves ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

The Blackhawks finished the trip with a 1-4-0 record, picking up only two out of a possible 10 points. They ended the weekend sitting six points out of the final wild card spot with two games in hand but four teams to jump. It's not impossible to get back in the race, but the cards are certainly stacked against them.

So what did we learn about this team?

The easy narrative would be to say the Blackhawks shrunk in games that had playoff-type implications, but that‘s just not true. They simply failed to capitalize on their opportunities, and they had plenty of them.

In Game 1 against Winnipeg, the Blackhawks held a 2-0 lead before allowing a shorthanded goal in the second period that was the first of five unanswered for the Jets, who went on to win 5-2. The Blackhawks went 0-for-3 on the power play and were outscored (1-0), outshot (3-2) and out-chanced (4-2) during those three opportunities. That was their downfall.

In Game 2 against Edmonton, the Blackhawks held a pair of one-goal leads — 2-1 in the first period and 3-2 in the second period — but couldn’t close the deal despite the Oilers playing without the NHL's best player in Connor McDavid. Again, a huge missed opportunity that was there for the taking.

In Game 3 against Vancouver, the Blackhawks peppered a season-high 49 shots on goal on Jacob Markstrom, 25 of which came from high-danger areas, but couldn't crack the code. It was one of their most dominating performances of the season from start to finish and yet they weren't rewarded for it.

In Game 4 against Calgary, the market quickly corrected itself when the Blackhawks scored a season-high eight goals on 28 shots in an 8-4 win over the Flames. It’s the exact response they were looking for, with all four lines contributing on the scoresheet.

In Game 5 against Winnipeg, the Blackhawks scored the first goal, then fell behind 2-1 before evening things up at 2-2 in the final minute of the second period. The game was up for grabs. But the Jets scored 1:36 into the third period after a shot from the point deflected off Alex DeBrincat’s stick and in, and it turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Look, there are no moral victories at this time of year. An ugly win beats the heck out of a pretty loss.

If the power play doesn't go 0-for-14, we might be having a different discussion because it had a chance to change the complexion of each game except the last one — because, well, there were no penalties called on either side, which was the first time that's happened in an NHL game this season.

But the Blackhawks have no margin for error and they're learning that the hard way.

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3 Takeaways: Blackhawks have hole to climb out of after road trip

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USA TODAY

3 Takeaways: Blackhawks have hole to climb out of after road trip

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, but the Blackhawks lost 3-2 to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday to close out their five-game road trip. Here are three takeaways:

Bad trip

After losing in Winnipeg, the Blackhawks finished their five-game road trip with a 1-4-0 record. They began the trip last Sunday in Winnipeg with a 5-2 loss. 

Sunday's game against the Jets had flashes of good, but it was mostly strong plays from the go-to guys like Kane and Jonathan Toews. All three Jets' goals came from deflections off shots from the point. Overall, the effort and productivity paled in comparison to the lone victory of the trip, Saturday's 8-4 win over the Flames in Calgary on Saturday. 

The Blackhawks, six points out of the second wild card spot, will return home and face the New York Rangers at the United Center on Wednesday. They have 23 regular season games remaining. 

Kane keeps climbing 

With a two-point outing in Winnipeg, Kane tied former Blackhawk Steve Larmer for 87th on the NHL all-time points list with 1,012. 

"Showtime" set up Ryan Carpenter for the first goal of the game at 15:44 of the first period by backhanding a pass towards the front of the net for the crashing Carpenter to bury.

Kane scored with less than a minute remaining in the second period to tie it 2-2 off a three-way passing play with Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik. Kane has 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in his past 18 games. 

With the primary assist on Kane's goal, Toews earned his sixth point (two goals, four assists) of the road trip. 

0.0

Sunday's Blackhawks-Jets game was the only NHL contest this season to have zero penalties. This was good news for Toews, who had five minor penalties over the prior four games. 

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