Everything but the goal: Ducks blank Blackhawks

Everything but the goal: Ducks blank Blackhawks

The Blackhawks had a lot of the shots. They had a lot of the puck possession. They had a lot of the momentum.

They just never had the lead.

Jonathan Bernier stopped all 43 shots he faced and Corey Perry got the winner as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Blackhawks 1-0 on Thursday night. The Blackhawks' seven-game winning streak was snapped but they didn't lose any ground on the Minnesota Wild. The Wild, who lost to Tampa Bay, still lead the Blackhawks by a point.

Johnny Oduya played in his first game since the Blackhawks acquired him on Feb. 28.

It was the first time since Jan. 13 the Blackhawks were shut out (6-0 to Washington).

Considering the Blackhawks have won 12 of their last 14 games, there wasn't a sense of concern over this one. Thursday night's game, the Blackhawks' first since Sunday, looked similar to their Feb. 18 outing against Edmonton, which came off a six-day bye.

"We just said that," coach Joel Quenneville said of the similar games. "We did a lot of good things. I thought our shot, either selection or net-front presence, was a little off. When there's a hungriness around the net, we could've gotten one and who knows? It could've opened it up at that point. We had some good looks with no finish, but definitely did a lot of good things."

Neither the Blackhawks nor Quenneville thought the layoff was an issue.

"I don't know. We had chances. Whether that's just executing and getting the finish, I don't know. It could be," Duncan Keith said. "I thought we did a lot of things, that we were pretty sharp out there with our passing a puck movement. Obviously [it's] getting guys in front there or maybe getting a greasier goal, whether it's a rebound or a tip or something like that."

The Blackhawks continued their trend of strong starts, outshooting the Ducks 19-2. The difference was Bernier. The Blackhawks thought they'd scored late in the second period, with Tanner Kero near the goal line. But they didn't, and the Ducks got the go-ahead goal moments later when Perry scored his 12th of the season.

"They played pretty physical, pretty solid defensively. Bernier made a bunch of saves," said Corey Crawford, who stopped 25 of 26 in the loss. "I mean, we played well, we had good looks. We just weren't getting some bounces there."

The Blackhawks have been playing well since the start of February, and Thursday night's game was no different. They had just about everything going for them in this one. The just couldn't get one past Bernier.

"Their goalie was very good and certainly was a factor. Crow did a good job at our end, and had some decent looks as the game progressed," Quenneville said. "Scoring first in a game like that was important."

How Blackhawks are trying to stay positive despite postseason-high 12 iron shots 

How Blackhawks are trying to stay positive despite postseason-high 12 iron shots 

Goal posts apparently aren't kind to the city of Chicago in the playoffs. (Nobody needs a reminder of the double-doink).

So if you hear a ringing sound, you’re not alone. 

The Blackhawks are six games into their postseason run and have hit 12 iron shots so far — 10 off the post, two off the crossbar. Twelve! That’s an average of two per game and a pace of 164 across an 82-game season. For reference, they hit the iron 58 times — 48 off the post, 10 off the crossbar — in 70 games during the regular season.

No team has hit more iron than the Blackhawks (12) since the NHL's 24-team Return to Play tournament started and it's not even close. The next highest? Toronto at six. An incredible gap.

"It's always tough hitting the post," said Drake Caggiula, who's hit one crossbar this postseason. "You’re close to scoring a goal but that’s hockey. It’s all about bounces. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t, you've just got to stick with it. It's just something where you've got to keep shooting the puck and trust that you're going to get your chances and make sure that you try and capitalize. But hitting the post is never a fun feeling unless it's going in the net. We've just got to make sure it doesn’t discourage us."

Here's a list of where each team sits when it comes to iron shots, through Thursday's games:

  • 12: Blackhawks
  • 6: Toronto
  • 5: Boston
  • 4: Calgary, Colorado, Columbus, Montreal, N.Y. Rangers, Vegas
  • 3: Florida, N.Y. Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
  • 2: Carolina, Dallas, Edmonton, Nashville, Tampa Bay, Washington, Winnipeg
  • 1: Vancouver
  • 0: Arizona, Minnesota, St. Louis

The Blackhawks hit five posts in Game 3 against the Edmonton Oilers, but it was easier to swallow because it came in a win. It wasn't so easy in a Game 2 overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.

Patrick Kane, who leads all skaters this postseason with three shots off the post, hit another one with 43 seconds left in the first period on Thursday when the Blackhawks were trailing 2-0. He beat Robin Lehner five-hole, but the puck rang off the pipe and bounced out. 

You could see the frustration in his face:

The Blackhawks did, however, get a nice break on Dominik Kubalik's power-play goal that tied the game at 2-2. His shot went off the inside of the post and in.

But the one that kept Chicago awake is the crossbar shot in overtime. 

Just 1:53 into extra time, Dylan Strome fired a 35-foot wrist shot from the right faceoff circle and rang it off the bottom part of the crossbar. He lifted his hands in the air thinking it was a goal. It was centimeters away from going bar down but bounced out instead.

The Blackhawks are certainly getting their chances. It's challenging to stick with it when the puck luck isn't going your way, but you have to earn your bounces and the Blackhawks must keep pushing through. That's the message.

"We've had our chances," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Sometimes it's like that. The key is, how long can we stick with it? How long can we be persistent when we face adversity? We've faced some adversity here over the first couple games. Do we have the character to overcome it? It's an opportunity for our guys.

"You play all year to be in these games, so now we're here and we've faced some adversity. So what? Just keep playing and believe in what we're doing and believe in the guys in the room and we're going to give them a run."

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Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner remains unbeaten with Vegas Golden Knights

Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner remains unbeaten with Vegas Golden Knights

On Thursday in Game 2, the Blackhawks tested Robin Lehner more than they did in Game 1 of the first round Stanley Cup Playoff series, when he only had to save 19 of 20 shots.

The Hawks were able to put 25 pucks on the Golden Knights' net, with three getting past Lehner to take the game to overtime where Vegas would triumph to take a 2-0 series lead.

"It was a little bit of a weird game," Lehner said following his Game 2 win. "There was not that much to do and I thought they had some good chances. I thought that Chicago played really well. Everyone keeps saying they're (the) underdog, but you look at their team: the experience, the skill... it's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out there. It's a lot of skill and they're world class players, so when they get opportunities it's hard. I got to look at the tape, I think I can be a little bit better, but a win's a win."

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner's birthday cake is ureal

With the victory, Lehner remains unbeaten in the 2020 postseason (4-0) and unbeaten as a Golden Knight. 

The 29-year-old netminder went 3-0-0 with 1.67 goals-against average and .940 save percentage with the Knights during the regular season ahead of the NHL Pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12. 

Related: Robin Lehner opens up on getting traded by Blackhawks

Lehner was traded from Chicago to Vegas ahead of Feb. 24's trade deadline. He was 16-10-5 as a Hawk this season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage prior to the move.

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champ with the Pittsburgh Penguins, may have lost the starter job to Lehner, at least for now. Fleury was only in net for one Golden Knights' round-robin game, with Lehner starting the rest of the postseason contests so far.

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