Blackhawks

Blackhawks suffer second straight loss in final game at Joe Louis Arena

Blackhawks suffer second straight loss in final game at Joe Louis Arena

DETROIT – Over the last month the Blackhawks have been a different team, with a strong four-line rotation, a lot of high-scoring games and plenty of energy.

Friday's game featured none of that.

Tomas Tatar scored twice, including the game-winning goal, as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Blackhawks 4-2 in the final meeting between the two at Joe Louis Arena. The Blackhawks, who were without Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya for this one – they were given a rest night – have lost two in a row for the first time since late January. They'll enter Sunday's game against the Minnesota Wild trailing by three points; the Wild beat the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

The Blackhawks have been stellar since the start of February but they looked listless on Friday night. After so many years of great games between the two rivals, Friday's Wings-Blackhawks game was decidedly mediocre.

"Last game at the Joe, you'd think you'd have a lot of jump and energy," Patrick Kane said. "Frustrating. We had the start we wanted, then give up two goals there late in the first. Not the way you want to finish that period."

Kane also talked of his own tough outing.

"It probably falls on me tonight, lot of bad turnovers and plays and missed coverage in our end," he said. "Being on for four goals against isn't good enough. Gotta be better than that."

The Blackhawks' biggest burst came early, when Artemi Panarin's 21st goal of the season gave them a 1-0 lead. But for the most part after that, the Blackhawks got quiet. Justin Abdelkader hit Brian Campbell near the boards, which drew the anger of Trevor van Riemsdyk.

"It was a pretty hard hit and we didn't like it too much. That's how it goes after something like that," van Riemsdyk said. "I ended up sitting in the box longer than you'd like to, but I just saw the hit and that was my reaction."

Coach Joel Quenneville had no problem with van Riemsdyk's reaction.

"Sometimes you go in there, doesn't necessarily means it's a fight, but it ended up being one," he said.

But the Red Wings reacted better after all of that, scoring twice within the final 3:35 of the first period (Xavier Ouellet and Andreas Athanasiou).

"It seemed like we were in a good spot and, boom, they scored two quick ones and now we're chasing," Corey Crawford said. "Tough spot to be in, second half of a back-to-back and playing catch-up hockey."

The Blackhawks couldn't catch up. Now they'll face the Wild, which should definitely get their attention. The Blackhawks have played great hockey over the last month or so. Friday's game just wasn't one of those outings.

'Road to the NHL Winter Classic' docuseries starts back on Dec. 19

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USA TODAY

'Road to the NHL Winter Classic' docuseries starts back on Dec. 19

The Road To The NHL Winter Classic™ docuseries will return to airwaves on December 19.

This year's edition will take a closer look at the Boston Bruins and the Blackhawks as they gear up for the 2019 Bridgestone Winter Classic that will take place at Notre Dame Stadium. 

This year marks the fourth time Chicago has been a part of the NHL Winter Classic and the third overall appearance for the Bruins.

The Road To The NHL Winter Classic will be a limited series and will premiere on Wednesday, December 19 on NBCSN at 10:30 CST after the conclusion of the Penguins-Capitals game. 

The limited series will finish up on January 6, with a one-hour finale episode on NBCSN. Full details on where you can watch can be found here.

The 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will take place in South Bend, Ind. on New Year's Day, at 12pm CST on NBC. 

After stint in Rockford, Blackhawks hoping Dylan Sikura is here to stay

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USA TODAY

After stint in Rockford, Blackhawks hoping Dylan Sikura is here to stay

Dylan Sikura came into the 2018-19 season with relatively high expectations. He was slotted in to play a top-six role in everyone's minds going into training camp, but as camp went on, started to get jumped on the depth chart and it was apparent that he could benefit from a stint in Rockford. So that's where he began the year.

It was a little hard to swallow for the Blackhawks, who lost another Opening Night top-nine forward after Vinnie Hinostroza was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason to clear Marian Hossa's contract off the books. It may have been a bit of a wake-up call for Sikura, who realized the transition from college hockey to the NHL wouldn't be easy.

But he took a positive attitude to Rockford after shaking off the initial shock, and that's when the development really starts.

"I'm in a lot better spot," Sikura said. "The adjustments to the pro hockey level is pretty tough and I kind of found out the hard way. But I'm going to use the experience from two years ago when I was up here and obviously the time down in Rockford and hopefully have a better jump start here.

"For me it was important to go down there with a positive mindset. Some guys go down there and they're not too happy about it. But I think it's something that's going to benefit me in the long run. I got a lot from it, improved my game, just getting adjusted to this level and hopefully it will show here."

Jeremy Colliton coached Sikura for the first month of the season when he was the IceHogs head coach. He knows what he brings to the table and what kind of progression he's been making. Colliton felt it was time to reward Sikura with a call-up after leading the team in goals (9), points (18) and shots on goal (90).

"He has played better and that’s important to reward guys when they show a progression," Colliton said. "He’s been more active away from the puck. He’s a little heavier stick, heavier in battles, maybe more confidence, too. He’s made more plays, pucks have gone in the net for him. It’s always nice as a skill player to see them go in."

Part of the reason Sikura is finally up with the Blackhawks is that he's earned a look. Another might be because of the Blackhawks' desperate need for depth scoring. It's probably a combination of both.

Sikura made his season debut on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins and kept it simple. He had one shot on goal and two takeaways in 9:33 of ice time, but noticeably skated with more confidence and appeared to be more comfortable. That's a positive step.

But the one thing both sides are hoping for is that Sikura seizes the opportunity and stays here for good because the Blackhawks need to start patching up the holes, not creating more.

"Obviously there's times down there when you question yourself and you question your play or when you're going to come up and stuff like that," Sikura said. "But I think it's important to just leave that behind. You got to know you're here for a reason and when you're called you got to be able to step up to the plate."

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