Blackhawks sit a few more veterans, fall to Ducks

Blackhawks sit a few more veterans, fall to Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. – In less than a week, the Blackhawks will once again be manning a full team, playing games that mean something. In one of their last that had no bearing on the standings, the Blackhawks played better, but didn’t get the result.

Corey Perry scored his 19th of the season and Chris Wagner also scored as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Blackhawks 4-0 on Thursday night.

Michal Rozsival suffered an upper-body after Nick Ritchie punched him six minutes into the third period (Rozsival had crosschecked Ritchie a few moments prior to that). Ritchie was assessed a match penalty. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll know more about Rozsival’s situation on Friday. Quenneville said Andrew Desjardins also suffered a lower-body injury and is day-to-day.

The Blackhawks were missing a few veterans, resting Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson (who’s still back in Chicago). But unlike Tuesday’s game in Colorado, the Blackhawks played a much better overall game on Thursday. They just couldn’t beat John Gibson, who stopped all 37 shots he saw.

“We didn’t get the results we got in Colorado. We were fortunate to get a point [there],” Quenneville said. “Today we played alright. We out-chanced them but they were opportunistic on their chances."

Ryan Hartman took a nasty slash to his right arm from Perry late in the first period but he returned to finish the game.

“Just caught a nerve there. I’m alright,” said Hartman, who wouldn’t say this game was better than the Blackhawks’ outing against the Avalanche, but “different.”

“Just different all around. We couldn’t find the net,” he said. “We were outshooting them for a bit. Gibson’s a good goalie, he had a good game. But I don’t know. We didn’t get very many pucks in at their blue line, we let them dictate the play a lot. So not a great game all around.”

The Ducks, who were playing with a fuller lineup and looking to clinch the Pacific Division (which they did with this victory), had the answers. Perry was wide open for his goal, a power-play effort, to put the Ducks up 1-0 about seven minutes into the first period. Wagner added his late in the second period.

Ryan Kesler added his 22nd goal of the season early in the third and Rickard Rakell scored his 33rd goal late in regulation.

The Blackhawks will soon be starting their postseason schedule. These last few are tough in terms of getting up for them, especially with some players sitting. But the Blackhawks, regardless of lineup on Saturday, would like to close out their regular season the right way.

“I thought for the most part a lot of guys had some good shifts in here and we had chances to score. Would have been nice to capitalize on a few, couple tough breaks, pucks are laying there, goalie made some good saves,” Patrick Kane said. “You kind of live and learn from every game, try to get better and learn from this and use it to look forward for our next one.”

Blackhawks not going to 'freak out' about 0-2-1 start

Blackhawks not going to 'freak out' about 0-2-1 start

The Blackhawks wanted to get off to a strong start this season because they know how hard it is to climb out of a hole in the Central Division. Last season was proof of that.

Well, they've picked up only one out of a possible six points through three games and are one of three teams still searching for their first victory of the season. But they're not going into panic mode just yet.

"We know there's things we have to improve upon," Jonathan Toews said. "Jeremy [Colliton] always talks about doing the right thing and over time eventually you're going to get results. I don't know if we can say we're doing things the right things that we want to and we're playing complete games right now, so even having said that, midway through the San Jose game and even against Winnipeg we were in a position to take control of the game going into the third period and we let teams back in. So I think there's a lot of ways we can play better.

"But having said that we're in those games and giving ourselves a chance to win. Obviously that's not good enough, but we're not going to freak out and say, 'we've got to start winning games.' Of course that's the goal, we wanted to get two points the other night."

The quest to pick up their first two points of the season doesn't get any easier for the Blackhawks on Monday night. The Edmonton Oilers are coming to town with a 5-0-0 record, and they're clicking on all cylinders. They have the second-best power play unit (41.2 percent), second-best penalty kill percentage (94.1), the NHL's leading point-getter in Connor McDavid (12) and leading goal scorer in James Neal (seven).

The Blackhawks know at some point they have to start stringing together some wins, but they're not living and dying by the standings right now because everything looks out of proportion. They're focused on the process and putting together a full 60-minute effort.

"It's always magnified at the start of the year," Colliton said. "Your special teams, you got [teams] with 100 percent PK, you got [teams] with 40 percent power play, and all the little things they look way bigger than they are. Would be nice for us to get a win, get some positive feelings but any three-game window among the 82, it's not going to be looked upon as closely as this one.

"So again, we've just got to focus on playing hard, playing the game the right way, do the right thing time and time again and we'll get the results." 

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Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Oilers

USA Today

Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Oilers

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night. He's 0-2-0 with a 4.63 goals-against average and .875 save percentage this season.

In 18 career appearances against the Oilers, Crawford is 9-7-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average, .909 save percentage and one shutout. 

The decision is a little surprising, given how well Lehner performed on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets and what his career numbers are against the Oilers. In eight starts vs. Edmonton, Lehner is 5-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and one shutout.

"We're going to continue to ... both guys are going to get in," coach Jeremy Colliton said after Monday's morning skate. "They're both going to play. I'm not going to give you the road map, but today it's Crawford and we'll go from there."

The Blackhawks are seeking their first win of the season (0-2-1) against an Oilers team that's 5-0-0.

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