Blackhawks

Corey Crawford, Blackhawks blank Kings

Corey Crawford, Blackhawks blank Kings

The Blackhawks have done some good things and have gotten points in this early season. The complete game, however, has eluded them.

They got as close as they have all year to that on Sunday night.

Corey Crawford stopped all 32 shots he saw for his first shutout of the season and Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 at the United Center.

Marian Hossa, who was honored prior to the game for his 500th career goal, recorded a goal and an assist. Toews added an assist. Artem Anisimov scored his sixth goal of the season and is now on a career-best, seven-game point streak. The Blackhawks have now won three of their last four games, and Sunday got the familiar parts of their game working again. Puck possession, a successful penalty kill (2-for-2) and more balance on the lines, it was all there.

“This was, so far, more complete in what we gave up in all areas of our game were solid,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a really good rotation of our lines, our [defense] moving and skating and the puck way more. Much better, more representative of how we need to play.”

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Toews’ goal, a power-play effort which proved to be the game-winner, was a weight off the captain’s shoulders.

“Oh, for sure,” he said. “You know the No. 1 thing too was getting the chances. It felt like we had a lot of shots. Nothing to show for 5-on-5 with [Patrick Kane] and Panik, Richard. We’re playing better there and you know it’s only improving. I think it’s just about the chances. It’s nice to feel comfortable shooting that puck finally, getting through traffic, seeing one go in and hopefully we’ll keep going and getting that confidence that comes with it.”

Crawford, who has played rather well all season, recorded the 20th shutout of his career. He was busier at the end, stopping 13 third-period shots from the Kings.

“I felt great,” Crawford said. “I thought that was our best game defensively. We didn’t give up too many chances inside, for scoring chances. Our [defensemen] were awesome moving the puck, getting in the play. Our PK was solid. That was nice to see we were getting some confidence on that, so that was a good game for us.”

Indeed, the Blackhawks’ confidence may have been as shaken as their puck possession game and penalty kill. There were glimpses in their game against New Jersey on Friday that they were starting to find their way, and they built off that tonight against the Kings. Sure, it’s one game, a small sample size. But for 60 minutes on Sunday the Blackhawks looked like the Blackhawks.

“It was important for us in tonight’s game, in a lot of ways, knowing the conference and the standings,” Quenneville said. “Every day [the standings] are so bunched up that you have to take advantage of home ice and take advantage of a team that played a game the night before.”

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.