Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at United Center on Sunday:
1. The second goal is more important than the first
For the 10th straight game, the Blackhawks have given up the first goal. What's become a more concerning trend, however, is how quickly they're allowing the second.
Of those 10 games, the Blackhawks have allowed at least two first-period goals in nine of them. That's way too many. On Sunday, the Canadiens scored two goals in 1:31 to put themselves ahead 2-0 and the Blackhawks again found themselves chasing the game.
"For whatever reason the last few games, teams probably sense that we're a little vulnerable and they come out really hard," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We need to match and exceed that intensity. If it means playing 25-30 seconds like it's the last minute of the game, that's what we got to do."
2. Eight power plays
The Blackhawks had a season-high eight power play opportunities against the Canadiens, who came in ranked 20th with a 78.3 percent kill rate. The Blackhawks capitalized on one of them, when Patrick Kane scored in the final minute of the first period to make it 2-1.
But they had exactly 10 minutes of 5-on-4 time in the third period and came up empty on each of them, despite recording a combined 12 shots on goal during those five man advantages. The game was there for the taking, but Carey Price came up large and the Blackhawks couldn't make him crack.
The Canadiens eventually scored with 1:17 left in regulation to hand the Blackhawks their seventh consecutive defeat, and it's not hard to look at those missed five power-play opportunities as a reason why they couldn't come up with at least a point.
"I don’t know if we could’ve done much more, to be honest with you," Kane said. "We moved it around well, we had good motion, we had good shots. They did a good job of blocking them, could’ve been a bounce either way. I thought the power play was pretty good tonight even if you look at the numbers and we’ve only got one goal on so many opportunities."
3. Patrick Kane breaks out
In the first 11 games of the season, Kane had just as many goals. He was among the league leaders in that category at the end of October.
Since then, he's been on a dry spell as he entered with only two goals in his previous 18 games. Kane broke out of that by scoring twice, including a power-play goal to put him at a team-leading 15 for the season.
The Blackhawks are 7-3-1 when he scores a goal, so it's important for Kane to build on that production.
"It’s always nice to produce," Kane said. "It’s been a while for me here lately. I could kind of feel it coming the last couple games. It’s nice to get on the score sheet. Would’ve been nice to get another one there in the third or get something, especially on the power play. But it didn’t happen."
4. Connor Murphy's return
The Blackhawks could use all the help they could get on the back end. And with Gustav Forsling out because of a shoulder injury, Murphy's return came at a good time.
In his season debut, he had five shot attempts (four on goal), three hits and a takeaway in 16:46 of ice time. He committed a high-sticking penalty in the third period, but also drew one that led to a power play opportunity.
"Physically, I felt good," Murphy said. "It was nice to get into a normal rhythm at the start of the game. Just getting into the flow of it was good. It was nice to have a home game. I felt like the guys were skating pretty well tonight and didn't have too much time defending, which is always nice to play a little more offense. So that part of it was good."
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