WINNIPEG, Man. — The Blackhawks had been on a nice run lately, using a combination of great goaltending and an improving all-around game to collect points in 11 consecutive games.
They were looking to take that game on the road on this Circus Trip. Unfortunately at their first stop, they took a step backward.
Josh Morrissey scored the first goal of his NHL career and the Winnipeg Jets added three more in the third period to beat the Blackhawks, 4-0, on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks, who were shut out for the first time this season, suffered their first regulation loss since Oct. 21 (a 3-2 loss to Columbus).
Vinnie Hinostroza was injured late in the first period off a hit near the boards and did not return. Coach Joel Quenneville said he thought Hinostroza would be fine but that he would know more on Wednesday.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 27 shots for his first shutout of the season and third of his career. Corey Crawford stopped 18 of 22 shots, getting pulled in favor of Scott Darling after the Jets scored twice in 11 seconds in the third period. Patrik Laine and Nic Petan had the Jets’ quick-strike goals in the third; Laine’s was his 12th of the season.
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There were a few games during the Blackhawks’ point streak in which they didn’t play well yet still pulled out one or two points. That wasn’t the case Tuesday, as the Blackhawks played flat from start to finish.
“We didn’t generate anything in the first period there. We still had a hockey game ahead of us, but we didn’t generate a lot tonight,” Quenneville said. “It’s one of those games where up front we tried a few things, missed a couple of guys and rearranged the lines without any success. Across the board, we shouldn’t be happy about that one.”
The Jets, who are going through several injuries right now, nevertheless played a strong game. No, they didn’t generate much themselves until the third period, when they broke open what was a 1-0 game to that point. But they were more opportunistic than the Blackhawks, whose puck possession was absent.
Also gone was a great opportunity for the Blackhawks in the second period, when they had a 5-on-3 advantage for a minute and seven seconds. Nothing came of it.
“We’re all pros, we can’t be deflated. But it’s a big opportunity there, and we’ve had some tough luck with the 5-on-3,” Brian Campbell said. “We’ve got to find ways to capitalize on those situations. They’re huge throughout a season and obviously playoffs.”
In one sense, the Blackhawks will shrug this one off. They’re coming off a nice run. In another sense, this is not how they wanted to start this Circus Trip. The Blackhawks were making strides in their overall game as they hit the road. On Tuesday, they hit a bump.
“I liked the way we were going where we had four or five games where we looked like we got better every game,” Quenneville said. “Today, looked like what we saw earlier.”