Blackhawks

Lightning end Blackhawks' remarkable streak

Lightning end Blackhawks' remarkable streak

The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups in the last seven seasons for a handful of reasons.

One of them has been their resiliency, no matter what the score is and when. Another is their ability to shut the door late in games when owning a lead.

The Tampa Bay Lightning know this better than anyone, a year and a half removed from falling in six games to the Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

Entering Tuesday, the Blackhawks were 78-0-5 when leading after two periods since the start of the 2014-15 season.

That streak of having not lost in regulation during those games came to an end when the Lightning scored four goals in the third period to take home a 5-2 victory at the United Center, a streak that even Tampa Bay couldn't help but be amazed at.

"It just shows what kind of team they are and how good they are with the lead, and how they play when they have the lead," said Lightning forward Alex Killorn, who assisted on two of the four third-period goals. "I think we did a great job coming back in. It's a pretty cool stat when you put it that way."

After taking a 2-1 lead into the third period, Nikita Nesterov lit the lamp 2:47 into the final frame to tie it up at 2-2. 

No problem. The Blackhawks have been here before, and have consistently found ways to retake the lead and extend their streak that snapped at 83 games. They did it as recently as Sunday, when they squandered a 2-0 lead to Vancouver but pulled away in the end for a 4-2 victory.

And it was also still early enough where they could brush it off and regroup.

The Lightning didn't give them time to, though.

Tyler Johnson found the back of the net twice within 30 seconds of each other shortly after, and before they knew it, the Blackhawks had given up a trio of even-strength goals before the first TV timeout.

“They get a big shot right off the goal, right off the faceoff," Joel Quenneville said. "Then they score. Didn’t look dangerous. Then they score two quick goals and now we’re behind against a dangerous team. We did some good things around the net tonight, we had a lot of scoring chances. Didn’t have the finish.” 

Nikita Kucherov iced the game when he buried home the empty-netter, leaving the Blackhawks left empty-handed.

"Yeah, that hasn't happened a whole lot," Patrick Kane said of the Blackhawks' streak. "Even if we give up that lead, we're finding ways to win those games. It was 2-1, you're in a good spot and you give up two quick ones, and all of a sudden you're chasing the game. A little disappointing.

"Going into the third, we wanted to control the puck, make sure we're making good plays. (Nesterov) made a good shot off the faceoff, a couple nice rush plays for them. But no excuse. Going into the third, we want to win those games with the lead, especially at home."

It was the Blackhawks' first regulation loss in the regular season when leading after two periods since April 12, 2014 vs. Nashville when they entered the third with a 3-2 lead but lost 7-5. That's almost three years.

Despite it being a remarkable run — and bound to end at some point — the Blackhawks know they let one get away, and won't settle for anything less than coming away with at least a point in games they hold a lead after 40 minutes going forward.

"We can't be letting games like that slip away," said Jonathan Toews, who had one goal and an assist in the loss. "I think the talk for a long time has been starting games a little bit better. I think we've been seeing that.

"Obviously if we're in the right spot, we're in the driver's seat going into the third periods with a lead, whether it's one goal or more than that, we've got to find ways to play better. I think a team like that, especially with their speed, they're going to come hard and the finish wasn't there tonight."

Four takeaways: Blackhawks follow same script in eighth consecutive loss to Jets

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks follow same script in eighth consecutive loss to Jets

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday:

1. No words

We're running out of words to explain the Blackhawks' poor starts. Everyone is. They gave up three goals on 15 shots in the first period, and didn't record their first shot on goal until the 17:36 mark.

At one point the Jets were outshooting the Blackhawks 14-0 while leading 3-0 on the scoreboard. The Blackhawks have allowed the first goal in 11 straight contests and are now being outscored 27-6 in the first period over that stretch.

"At some point talking about it isn't helping," coach Jeremy Colliton said after practice on Monday. "Try to give them some ideas about how to fix it, but not dwell on it. We'll see."

2. Three unanswered

After going down 4-0, the Blackhawks took advantage of a Jets team that took their foot off the gas by scoring three unanswered — two in the second period and one in the third — to cut their deficit to 4-3.

It followed the same script as the past several games, where the Blackhawks get off to a poor start, push back, and then come up short of a potential comeback. They're shooting themselves in the foot and until they get out of their own way, won't make any progress. The Jets scored the next goal to make it 5-3 — the empty-netter put it at 6-3 — and it sucked the life out of any momentum the Blackhawks were trying to build.

3. Careless penalties and a struggling kill

The Jets entered Tuesday with the third-ranked power play, converting on 28.7 of their chances. The Blackhawks committed five penalties — most of which were unnecessary or preventable — and the Jets made them pay three times. And they all came at key times.

Mark Scheifele's put the Jets up 1-0, Kyle Connor's second of the night extended their lead to 4-0 and Mathieu Perreault's was the dagger that put it at 5-3. 

On Sunday, it was missed opportunities on the power play that cost the Blackhawks. On Tuesday, it was the penalty kill. Special teams remains a work in progress.

4. Chemistry developing between Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome?

Time for a positive. The two best forwards on the Blackhawks may have been Kane and Strome, both of whom were on the scoresheet — Strome with a goal and Kane with two assists. 

It was Strome's fourth goal in eight games as a member of the Blackhawks and Kane's second straight multi-point game. Kane also extended his point streak to four games, and has six points (two goals, four assists) over that span.

But back to Kane and Strome as a duo. The two of them were on the ice for 9:34 of 5-on-5 time and controlled 64.7 percent of the shot attempts when they were together, and also generated four scoring chances, according to naturalstattrick.com. When they were separated, Strome's percentage was at 14.3. Perhaps Colliton will go back to that line — along with Alex DeBrincat — to start the game on Wednesday against Pittsburgh and build off the chemistry they're creating.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks prospects edition and World Juniors preview

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks prospects edition and World Juniors preview

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Slavko Bekovic and Charlie Roumeliotis talk about Adam Boqvist's emergence with the London Knights in the OHL, how his game has developed and when we could see him with the Blackhawks.

The guys provide updates on a handful of Blackhawks prospects, including Rockford IceHogs forwards Victor Ejdsell and Dylan Sikura, defensemen Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell, and NCAA's leading scorer Evan Barratt. Why hasn't Sikura been called up yet and should he be? What kind of player could Barratt turn into?

They also preview the IIHF World Junior Championship and which Blackhawks prospects to look out for.

0:55 – What did Charlie learn in 1-on-1 with Boqvist?

2:00 – How has Boqvist adjusted to smaller ice surface?

3:10 – How has Boqvist developed in OHL?

5:00 – What is the benefit of playing with Evan Bouchard on a loaded team?

6:45 – Boqvist comps with Erik Karlsson

9:35 – What did Knights GM Rob Simpson say about Boqvist?

10:35 – Brian Campbell helping develop Boqvist

12:10 – Boqvist on Sweden’s World Junior roster

14:25 – Sikura, Ejdsell and Louis updates in Rockford

18:45 – Evan Barratt leading NCAA in points

22:15 – Ian Mitchell makes Team Canada preliminary roster

24:40 – Nicolas Beaudin underrated prospect?

28:35 – Could Jokiharju play in the World Juniors?

30:00 – Brandon Hagel a pleasant surprise

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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