Some postgame stories write themselves and when a team goes eight consecutive power plays without a shot on net -- and lose a game by a goal -- that’s going to be the storyline no matter what else happens.
That’s the scenario facing the Chicago Blackhawks as they dropped their second consecutive game, 2-1 in a shootout, to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Yes, they earned a point with a third period game tying goal by Brent Seabrook but they could have had much more.
“Something we’ll keep working on,” coach Joel Quenneville said of the power play after the game. “We’re not happy about it. We’ll keep pulling forward and being positive.”
Maybe going negative would work. The Hawks have tried just about everything else, including bringing in their director of player development to work on it. It’s had minimal impact. The hockey gods even gave the Hawks a minute-plus of 5-on-3 time in the second period. By now you know the result: no shots on net which means no goals.
“It seems like we lose the face-off right off the bat, 5-on-3, and its out in the neutral zone,” Quenneville said. “It doesn’t start out on the right foot but still had plenty of opportunities to score after that.”
That’s another issue, the Hawks have been getting killed in the face-off circle, specifically on the power play, over the last two games. It’s contributed to their woes. But the bottom line is, it’s embarrassing to go eight attempts without a shot. No rebounds, no havoc, no goals.
“That’s one of the things we’re trying to focus on,” Patrick Kane said. “I think we’re trying, we’re getting pucks through, sometimes they’re getting blocked, sometimes they’re getting deflected. Five-on-three we could have had more movement.”
Ranked 24th in the league and converting just 15 percent of the time, the Hawks' power play had a tough enough task coming into the game. New Jersey is tops in the league killing penalties at a 90 percent clip -- a very rare rate of success. A team unable to produce even a shot on goal on the power play in consecutive games is also rare. Starting over on special teams this late in the year won’t be easy -- but it’s necessary.
“When you get a 5-on-3 you want to score no matter what,” Kane said. “Tough part of the game.”
He could have just as easily said “tough part of our game” because it has been since almost Day 1.
• Viktor Stalberg had seven of the Hawks 38 shots on net.
• Brent Seabrook scored his eighth goal of the season, one off his career high achieved twice.
• Andrew Shaw’s career high five game point streak came to an end.
• New Jersey improved to 16-6 in overtime this year including 12-4 in shootouts.
• Steve Montador didn’t take another shift after his head collided with Mark Fayne early in the third period. Montador missed the last 22 games before Tuesday with a reported concussion. He played wing against New Jersey, totaling 4:20 of ice time.