- Jesse Rogers, Chicago Cubs beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- The irony of how the Chicago Blackhawks are playing, and to what team they just lost a second home game to in the span of 10 days, should not be lost.
With Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to the lowly Edmonton Oilers, the Hawks proved once again they are playing the opposite of clutch. Another close game in the third period -- this time a one-goal Hawks’ lead -- abruptly turned into a regulation loss in the span of 0:14.
“There are no excuses for it,” Brian Campbell said after the shocking defeat. “We have to find ways to finish chances throughout the game, and work harder, especially right after a goal is scored. Obviously we didn’t get the job done again tonight, which is getting a little old.”
In seven of eight regulation losses this year, the Hawks have been tied or leading in the third period before the bottom fell out. And then the Hawks were left with nothing to show for it in the standings.
“It’s unacceptable,” Campbell continued. “We have to get a little mad in this locker room and go out there and win some more battles.”
What doesn’t make sense is the Hawks are the proven team. They are the ones with high-pressure situation experience. The Oilers, for example, are young and still learning who they are and how to play the game. The Hawks should be able to shut the door on a team like this when they need to. There’s the irony. Edmonton showed more poise than the Hawks.
“It’s unacceptable to lose the game in one minute,” Marian Hossa stated. “We played a pretty solid defensive game up until the third period. As a championship team we have to respond better.”
And what’s more perplexing is who is on the ice when things go bad in the third period. It’s no surprise, a close game that enters the late stages is going to see the Hawks’ stars getting the playing time. And still, the job isn’t getting done.
Coach Joel Quenneville thought the Blackhawks might have started to solve these problems just the night before. They clamped down in a wild 4-4 affair against Atlanta, getting the game to overtime and, eventually, a shootout victory. But not on Sunday.
Quenneville touched on all these subjects after the defeat:
“That’s our sore spot this year,” he said. “The inability of closing teams out or winning at home. We should be a little more desperate than we’ve seen. Especially as the game progresses and the game is on the line.
“We should be grasping the importance of critical shifts and timelessness of getting the job done defensively. We’re not looking for blame here, we’re looking for solutions. No matter who is on the ice, we have to be better in these situations.
“Sometimes [the core players] play a little more and you could argue, ‘Is it too much?’ We’ll keep an eye on [it].”
Duncan Keith played 29:03 while Brent Seabrook was on the ice for 26:15. That’s about what they were playing when Campbell was injured. In any case, they were both on the ice for both goals-against, as was Hossa.
“They score a power-play goal and, right after, we can’t give up another goal again,” Hossa said. “That changed the whole momentum.”
And it led to another point-less night for the Hawks. Different night, same result. Like Campbell said, this is getting old.
Hossa’s return: Hossa was back in the lineup after missing four games. He said his injury was unrelated to his shoulder surgery of a year ago. Hossa said he felt “almost back to normal”. Quenneville said he thought Hossa played “OK” in his return.
Bolland update: Before the game, Quenneville told reporters Dave Bolland was close to returning from an injury and should be in the lineup later this week.
The Blackhawks keep finding ways to blow close games this season.