The start wasn’t so bad. The end was a great flourish. The middle wasn’t so good, and it was ultimately costly for the Blackhawks. And for only the third time this season, the Blackhawks lost a home game in regulation.
Artemi Panarin scored his 15th goal of the season and Richard Panik added his ninth, but the Blackhawks couldn’t muster another one in a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks, whose five-game winning streak was snapped, remain atop the Western Conference with 48 points.
Now, will they be down another forward? Marian Hossa did not return for the second period, suffering an upper-body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said Hossa is questionable for Friday, when the Blackhawks host the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks are already without Artem Anisimov, although Quenneville said the center could play Friday.
The Blackhawks had a strong finish but they had to make up for a mediocre second in which the Senators scored three times, including twice in 10 seconds. Derick Brassard’s goal one second after an Ottawa power play and Tom Pyatt’s goal those few seconds later turned a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 Ottawa lead.
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“Kind of a tough swing in the second period with the end of the penalty kill and another quick one to go down two,” said Jonathan Toews. “I think in a lot of situations, if we have little breakdowns we find a way to keep games tight. Play the way we do late in games we find ways to win, especially the way we’ve been playing lately. Unfortunately, we got down a few and didn’t have enough to come back.”
Still, the Blackhawks almost did. Richard Panik brought the Blackhawks to within a goal early in the third period and Marcus Kruger had a penalty shot with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. But as with several other Blackhawks chances down the stretch, Mike Condon stopped it.
“Obviously I wanted to take the chance there and score and tie it up. That would’ve been great,” said Kruger. “I really wanted to see that go in but it is what it is.”
The Blackhawks have fared well at home this season. They didn’t have enough through the middle of this one, and as Quenneville said, the Senators “played a good road game.”
The Blackhawks have had a lot of finish this season. This time, they didn’t have quite enough.
“I think that’s been our team the last few games, coming from behind and having really good third periods. That’s something we want to keep doing but we want our starts to be a lot better,” Kruger said. “We had two tough breakdowns in the second that put us behind and we had to chase a lot today. We gave it a try in the end, but can’t get the last one in.”