The horn sounded at the end of the first period on Monday night, with the Blackhawks staring up at a familiar number: it was another period in which they gave up three or more goals.
“I mean, we have big periods offensively, as well,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But key shifts of quick goals is something we haven't dealt with before. We’ve got to make sure we kill that.”
Yes, as Quenneville noted, the Blackhawks have scored in bunches themselves. But it’s what they’ve given up that’s most noticeable, mainly because it’s unusual for them. In seven periods this postseason the Blackhawks have given up three or more goals. Four of those periods came against the Nashville Predators and two against the Ducks, including Anaheim’s first period in Game 5. The Blackhawks are 4-3 in those games.
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“I guess when we give up one, we’ve got to find ways to come back and try and cut off their offense and cut off their momentum,” Jonathan Toews said. “At the end of the last game and early in this game, we just didn’t quite do that well enough and gave up too much. But we’ve got to try and stop the bleeding a little bit earlier next time.”
A few factors have led to opponents’ goal-scoring outbursts in those periods. The Blackhawks’ defense, whether we’re talking about the blue liners or the team version, has had its tough moments. That was especially true against Nashville, when forwards and defensemen didn’t seem to be on the same page. That’s when Corey Crawford struggled, too, and was replaced by Scott Darling for most of the series.
Entering this series the Blackhawks’ defense has tried to get through the Michal Rozsival loss, with very mixed results. Couple that with an opportunistic Ducks team that has pounced on mistakes or created its own chances with good shots and traffic, and you have a recipe for multiple goals against.
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The Blackhawks have had the firepower to overcome some of those periods; they almost included last night’s game in their list of memorable comebacks. But it’s not easy to do that over and over, and the energy spent recovering may be taking its toll. They’ll face their first elimination game of this postseason on Wednesday night, when they host the Ducks in Game 6. They’ll need to play their best. They’ll need to leave everything out there. They’ll need to keep opponents from scoring in bunches, which has shown to be a big challenge.
“In the playoffs there are momentum swings, no doubt. It seems when the other team has momentum we have to find a way to get back, whether it’s a good shift 5-on-5, a big hit, a scoring chance, whatever you call it,” Patrick Sharp said. “The last couple of games they’ve scored three quick ones on us. But it’s a one-goal game, a one-goal series so we’re looking forward to the next game.”
Games where the Blackhawks have allowed three goals in a period:
|Game 1||1st Round||Predators||first||3OT win|
|Game 2||1st Round||Predators||third||loss|
|Game 5||1st Round||Predators||third||loss|
|Game 6||1st Round||Predators||first||win|
|Game 1||2nd Round||Wild||second||win|
|Game 4||Western Conference Final||Ducks||third||win|
|Game 5||Western Conference Final||Ducks||first||OT loss|