Blackhawks

Penalty kill woes continue in Blackhawks loss to Predators

Penalty kill woes continue in Blackhawks loss to Predators

NASHVILLE – Jonathan Toews was fighting. The penalty kill wasn’t killing.

And while the Blackhawks felt better about their third period, for their second consecutive game they were losing.

P.K. Subban scored his first goal with his new team, one of three power-play goals the Blackhawks gave up for the second consecutive game in their 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Friday night. It was another frustrating night for the Blackhawks, who get to face the Predators again on Saturday.

Marcus Kruger scored his first goal of the season as did Niklas Hjalmarsson, who returned after completing his three-game suspension.

The Blackhawks’ forward depth looks to have taken another hit, too. Ryan Hartman, who suffered a lower-body injury first period and did not return, could “miss some time,” according to coach Joel Quenneville. On replays it appeared Hartman got hurt during a scrum in front of the net, then may have been hurt again when he blocked a Subban shot. Quenneville said he’ll know more on Saturday but said Hartman will miss “probably more than a couple of games.”

The penalty kill, meanwhile, continues to be a baffling issue. In their first two games, the Blackhawks’ former bread and butter has been their biggest liability as they’ve allowed opponents six power-play goals.

“Yeah it was definitely the gaping hole in our game,” said Toews, who fought James Neal in the first period out of frustration after taking Neal’s stick to his face. “Across the board we had a much better effort and even if we do get the penalty kills that we didn’t get tonight, it still takes a lot of energy out of your game. So we have to smarten up and find ways to stay out of the box and we’ll go from there.”

Indeed, the Blackhawks have been taking a lot of infractions and their veteran players have spent a bulk of the time in the penalty box. Still, the Blackhawks have long been a good penalty-killing team. What’s happening now is very unusual.

“Last game they were going in from [one] side tonight it was through the middle,” queneville said. “Whether we didn’t front properly or they had traffic at the net, certainly we have to have better discipline and stay out of the box as well. We still could’ve had some offense that could’ve got us back in there to get an equalizer but we didn’t generate enough.”

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The Blackhawks looked better in the third period and got one last power-play opportunity with 1:46 remaining in regulation. But even after pulling Corey Crawford and going 6-on-4, the Blackhawks couldn’t find the equalizer.

“We had some looks, some chances, but obviously wasn’t good enough. I had some chances where I have to hit the net,” Duncan Keith said. “We had the pressure on and we had the chances but we just didn’t get it.”

The Blackhawks pointed to the third period and their 5-on-5 play as improvements over Game 1. But the penalty killing problems have been in both games now; that and the discipline have to get better fast.

“Obviously we need to take baby steps there. But if we rectify our penalty kill, it’ll make a big difference for us,” Toews said. “When you come up with some big penalty kills and everyone’s playing hard and we get a couple blocked shots, it helps your team, it gives you energy. And tonight we didn’t do what we had to do there.”

Blackhawks place Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw on injured reserve

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USA Today

Blackhawks place Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw on injured reserve

The Blackhawks placed defenseman Duncan Keith and forward Andrew Shaw on injured reserve Friday, retroactive to Nov. 29 and 30, respectively. The move opens up two spots on the 23-man roster, although the team did not make any corresponding transactions due to cap reasons.

Keith, who has missed the last three games with a groin injury, and Shaw, who is in the league's concussion protocol, will not play in Friday's game against the New Jersey Devils but they will both be eligible to return after that, whenever they're cleared to do so. Injured reserve requires a player to miss a minimum of seven days from their retroactive date.

The Blackhawks do not receive any cap relief by putting Keith and Shaw on regular injured reserve, but if their injuries continue to linger, the team could transfer one or both to long-term injured reserve (LTIR) for financial reasons, which would force them to miss a minimum of 10 games and 24 days from the time of their injury.

The Blackhawks do not have the cap space to make a call-up and with Drake Caggiula, who's on LTIR, inching closer to a return, that complicates things from a financial standpoint. They're currently sitting at 21 players and have $240,030 in projected cap space, according to Cap Friendly.

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After snapping 12-game goal drought, Alex DeBrincat hoping 'I can get hot again'

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AP

After snapping 12-game goal drought, Alex DeBrincat hoping 'I can get hot again'

BOSTON — Alex DeBrincat isn't used to going through long stretches without scoring a goal. He found the back of the net 41 times last season, which was tied for sixth amongst all skaters.

But the offense hasn't come as naturally for him this season. 

While he's dishing out assists at a career-high rate (0.50 per game), DeBrincat had only five goals through 27 games going into Thursday and was on pace to finish the season with 15. The longest goal drought of his NHL career is 13 games, which came during his rookie season, and he was on the verge of tying that mark.

But after breaking through in the third period of Thursday's 4-3 overtime win over the Boston Bruins, DeBrincat ended a 12-game drought for his first goal since Nov. 7. And he's hoping it will open the floodgates.

"It was a long time between goals," DeBrincat said. "But hopefully I can get hot again and keep going."

DeBrincat didn't show it, but the frustration was brewing inside. In Saturday's 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche he couldn't convert on an open backdoor chance and took out his anger on Samuel Girard by picking a fight with the 5-foot-10, 170-pound defenseman.

DeBrincat is a goal scorer and he wasn't scoring. With the monkey off his back, perhaps this could propel his offensive production.

"He's been playing well, getting chances," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "They just haven't gone in for him. Hopefully this is the little boost that he needs."

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