Wednesday, February 13, 2013
SO loss leaves Hawks with mixed emotions
By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks played to nearly every degree over their first 12 games.
Nick Leddy scored one of the Hawks' two goals in Tuesday's loss to the Ducks.
They were good to great on most days. They were average on a few. They were even awful (see the Calgary Flames game).
But no matter how the Blackhawks had played, their result never changed. They recorded at least one point.
On Tuesday, the Blackhawks put their points streak to the test again when their play fell on the lower end of their season-opening scale. But despite not playing with the pace they used to excel in recent games, the Blackhawks came away with another point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center.
“Calgary, we were fortunate (to win,)” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Tonight, we were in the same boat. It’s a tough game. I’m not making excuses. The other side is a good hockey team. They’ve gotten off to a strong start. The first game back (from a long road trip) you need everything going and find a way. We almost got to the finish line.
“We’re doing some good things. Finding ways to get points in important for us as we go along here to the objective, but we’re not complaining.”
Although the Blackhawks improved to 10-0-3 with a NHL-leading 23 points and may have just stolen a point from the Ducks, who are in second place in the Western Conference with 19 points, the Blackhawks felt they squandered a chance to take two points in regulation.
After the game, only a few Blackhawks made themselves available to the media, and those who stuck around believed they should have won Tuesday. One point wasn’t enough for them.
The Blackhawks were leading 2-1 thanks to a highlight-worthy goal by rookie Brandon Saad in the second period. But Andrew Cogliano knocked in a rebound to even the score with 2:40 to go in the third period and spoiled the Blackhawks' night. It didn’t seem like Corey Crawford had a chance on the shot, but it still bothered him.
“It’s definitely frustrating when you’re up late like that,’ Crawford said.
Even in the overtime, the Ducks nearly handed the game to the Blackhawks with two 4-on-3 power plays. Both times, though, the Blackhawks couldn’t find the net. They were 1 for 7 on power plays for the night.
The Blackhawks’ odds of winning didn't seem great heading into the shootout. They had already lost twice in three shootouts this season, and it hasn’t been an area of strength in recent years. They were 7-7 in shootouts last season.
Quenneville has stressed the importance of shootouts on the shortened season in the past, and he did it again on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be vital, critical to the standings, jockeying position to make the playoffs,” Quenneville said. “It’s very important to our success or the team’s positioning as well.”
As disappointing as the shootout loss was, Crawford said the key was now for the Blackhawks do what they’ve done best all season -- move on.
“We’re just focused on the next game and focused on how we’re going to play,” Crawford said. “We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves at all, negatively or positively. It’s just the next game for us.”