After stringing together four consecutive victories and picking up at least a point in eight of nine games, the Blackhawks have dropped back-to-back contests in regulation for the first time since Oct. 24-26. But there's no panic in the locker room.
The Blackhawks are encouraged with their overall progression since the calendar flipped to November and won't let consecutive losses convince themselves they're taking steps backwards after making up ground over the last several weeks.
"I don't think we've lost the momentum," Jonathan Toews said following a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. "I think we know what we can do, we just got to get our legs going and get four lines rolling again. Be back on the road this weekend, so back to that same mentality of playing simple hockey. Last couple road games we had four lines contributing and a lot of pucks going in, so try and get back to that same style."
The Blackhawks didn't like the way they played in the first two periods against Carolina on Tuesday, and rightfully so. They were outplayed in every facet, but threw the kitchen sink at the Hurricanes in the third period and made it close, which showed yet again that they're never out of a game when they play an up-tempo style of hockey.
The Blackhawks didn't necessarily come out flat on Thursday against Tampa Bay, but they also didn't capitalize on their chances until the third period and made it difficult on themselves to build a lead early in the game. They outshot the Lightning 12-4 in the final frame after being outshot 23-16 in the first two periods, but the Lightning scored three times in the final 10:16 while the Blackhawks scored only twice.
"We did some good things tonight," Patrick Kane said. "Obviously would have been nice to get some points here in the last two games, but yeah, we gotta keep playing the way we won all those games and went on the nice stretch with. Stay with it. We know the recipe for success and keep building."
Whether they're at their best or not, the Blackhawks recognize how important it is to pick up points and want to make sure they're doing everything they can to stay in the thick of the playoff race, especially with five straight divisional games on the horizon.
"Obviously, these two last home games weren't our best games," Dylan Strome said. "We had a push in each game but I don't think it was good enough. Got to find a way to battle for 60 minutes. Four straight divisional games coming up so important time in the standings and we got some time between games. It's time to find a way to pick up some points in the division here."
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