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Friday, December 20, 2013
Uneven play dooms Blackhawks in SO loss

By Scott Powers



CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews hasn’t held back whenever he’s felt the Chicago Blackhawks have played poorly this season.

Toews had his chance to do the same after Friday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks, but he didn't believe it warranted that sort of reaction. While disappointed, Toews didn’t seem like he was going to lose too much sleep over squandering the additional point.

“You can’t win them all,” said Toews, whose team is 5-1-1 in its past seven games. “We’ll bounce back in a couple days. We’ll take advantage of the rest, but we know that after these couple days there has to be another level we need to get to that we didn’t get to tonight.”

It was an evening of taking the good with the bad for the Blackhawks.

The good was going 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, an area in which the Blackhawks haven’t been able to find much consistency in this season. They entered the game ranked 28th with a 74.6 penalty-kill percentage.

“[There’s some] better awareness of what they’re trying to do, against some pretty good power plays as well, slowed them down,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think there’s some progression here.”

The bad was not scoring on any of their own power-play chances. The Blackhawks were riding a 10-game streak of power-play goals and were held without one on four opportunities against the Canucks.

Even though the Canucks do possess the league’s top penalty kill, Toews thought the Blackhawks should have produced a goal.

“We had our chances on the power play, and we didn’t create enough,” Toews said. “We got to take advantage of those opportunities, and we didn’t quite do that tonight.”

Another positive was that rookie goaltender Antti Raanta continued to look sharp. He made 22 saves and seemed to be more comfortable during the shootout. The Canucks scored twice during eight shootout rounds.

The flipside was the Blackhawks found the net just once in those eight SO rounds. The Blackhawks are 4-4 in shootouts this season.

“[Raanta] gave us a chance,” Quenneville said. “We go that deep [and] we got to get some production there.”

The game played out with the good coming early for the Blackhawks, as they scored the first two goals. The bad followed with the Canucks scoring the next two goals.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane even provided his own ups and downs. The good was a goal and an assist, but the bad was he failed again to score in the shootout. He hasn’t converted on eight shootout chances this season. He scored six shootout goals on 11 chances last season.

“I obviously haven’t had a good record on the shootout this year,” Kane said. “I thought I had the guy beat, but maybe didn’t put the backhand where I wanted and the goalie made a nice save. It’s something when you don’t convert those the team loses points. I’ll try to get better at that.”