TAMPA — The Blackhawks weren’t thrilled with their team outing on Thursday, but they could take some comfort in knowing it was their first loss since Dec. 27.
Yes, the 12-game winning streak is over. It was a fun ride, one that catapulted the Blackhawks to the top of the Central Division standings. They’re still there, thanks to the cushion they’ve built. They also have no time to be disappointed in this one, given they’re playing the Florida Panthers, who had a 12-game winning streak of their own not too long ago, on Friday night.
So before we head to the other side of the state — it’s nice and warm over there, too — let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
1. Corey Crawford could’ve used some help. It was another night in which Crawford could’ve compiled a highlight reel of his saves. He did everything he could to keep the Blackhawks in this one, stopping 31 of 33 shots. “I thought he was great tonight,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He gave us a chance to be in the game the whole time.”
2. That odd infraction. There were a few people scratching their heads when Patrick Kane was called for interference when he played the puck before he was fully out of the penalty box in the second period. The rule is highlighted here. It was odd, it was costly — the Lightning scored the game-winning goal on that power play — but it was nonetheless legit. It was rarely called penalty night, though: Valtteri Filppula was whistled for a face-off violation to start the third.
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3. No generation. Artem Anisimov gave the Blackhawks the lead on their first shot on goal just 43 seconds into the game. It would take to the end of the second period for the Blackhawks to get another eight shots on Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. Yeah, it’s been a while since the Blackhawks generated so little. They finished with 18 shots, their lowest total this season — the previous low was 19 against the Calgary Flames on Nov. 20. “It seemed like they had pretty good sticks and they closed the gap in their zone pretty fast,” Crawford said. “Just one of those games, I guess.”
4. A costly snooze. Richard Panik was settling in nicely with the Blackhawks. He found a place on the fourth line and scored two goals in as many games. But when he overslept on Thursday morning he made Quenneville one unhappy coach. Panik was benched, and the Blackhawks went with a seventh defenseman — Rob Scuderi, who played on the fourth line. Don’t know if Panik is in the lineup on Friday vs. the Panthers, but we’re guessing he learned his lesson.
5. A changing of the forward. Ryan Garbutt’s time here was brief, as he’s the latest to be shipped elsewhere. Jiri Sekac, who the Blackhawks acquired from the Anaheim Ducks, will likely make his debut on Friday against Florida. Garbutt’s energy was good for the Blackhawks, but the younger Sekac, who’s in the final season of his contract, might have more upside in the long haul.