PHILADELPHIA – The Blackhawks have shown glimpses in this early season of what they can do when they’re on the same page. They showed on Wednesday what happens when they’re not.
Sam Gagner scored his first goal in a Philadelphia uniform and Michal Neuvirth stopped all 30 shots he faced as the Flyers beat the Blackhawks 3-0 on Wednesday night. It was the first shutout of the season for the Blackhawks, who haven’t won a regular-season game in Philadelphia since Nov. 9, 1996.
The Blackhawks got into penalty trouble early in this one and never really recovered. After taking just four penalties in their first three games, they took five in the first two periods on Wednesday. That gave the Flyers power plays, life and eventually a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“It’s the opposite talked about it this morning: we took some careless penalties,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We gave them momentum. They had pace and we stood around and watched a majority of the game.”
The Blackhawks had their chances and had five power plays themselves, but they couldn’t capitalize on anything. Neuvirth was a big reason for that. At other times the Blackhawks just missed great opportunities.
“I just think we had our chances at the end, but sometimes you don’t come out with the work ethic you need,” Jonathan Toews said. “We weren’t winning the puck races, we weren’t winning the battles, all those little details you hear us talk about. You don’t get the bounces if you don’t do that. That’s kind of what it came down to tonight and translated into us taking some penalties and having to kill off a few and us not generating a whole heck of a lot on the power play.”
Their second line has been the driving force in the early season. But on Wednesday the combination of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane – who was booed every time he touched the puck – yielded nothing. The Blackhawks’ other three lines haven’t generated much. That includes the top line, which had another left-wing tryout – Viktor Tikhonov – with Toews and Marian Hossa by the end of this game.
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“You try things,” Quenneville said. “You’re not happy but certainly tonight wasn’t what we were looking for. It wasn’t about trying different things tonight. We were brutal.”
The Blackhawks won’t have a lot of time to think about this one, as they face the Washington Capitals tomorrow. Scott Darling is “likely” to start, Quenneville said. They’ve done some good in this early season but they’ve also got some things they need to fix.
“I guess it’s still feeling each other out as a team, making sure we’re all prepared, we’re all ready to go before the game, and we’re all on the same page,” Toews said. “It starts with the guys that have been here for a number of years, guys that know what it takes, especially early on. We’ll make sure we carry out a better effort tomorrow night.”