Hawks' offensive drought continues

Maybe it should have been a hook instead of a trip or maybe the whistle should never have been blown. One thing is for sure, it was a late call against captain Jonathan Toews. No one likes games that come down to the referees but that’s exactly what happened in the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

The most sound, fundamental player on the team, got called for tripping 37 seconds into overtime as he skated with Canadiens’ defenseman P.K. Subban into the corner. Subban scored the game-winner on the ensuing power play.

“Johnny didn’t touch his feet so, tough call,” Joel Quenneville said after the game on Comcast SportsNet. “Tough way to end it.”

Toews’ stick got in Subban’s midsection for a moment but whether it caused him to fall only the Canadiens’ defenseman knows. Either way, it might be a time of game where a whistle shouldn’t be blown.

“I saw the whole thing develop and watching the replay, I was not pleased,” Quenneville reiterated.

After he calms down, Quenneville will undoubtedly acknowledge winning the game earlier, and taking the referees out of any equation, is the best formula to avoid tough endings. But the Hawks' offense is stuck in mud, despite again outshooting the opposition.

The Hawks had 43 shots on net to Montreal’s 35. So after getting outshot 12-5 to open the game, they turned the tables on the Canadiens to the tune of 37 to 23. It didn’t matter. Only one got by Carey Price. A 20-shot third period by the visitors couldn’t get them a second goal. Moreover, the Hawks' highly-ranked power play couldn't muster that one great look. The Hawks went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

So that’s 14 goals (not counting one from a shootout) in their past nine games. Is Patrick Sharp that valuable? He’s missed the last seven.

Even with 43 shots on net, it’s debatable if the Hawks had enough quality. They had more than they earned two nights earlier in getting shutout by Tampa Bay but that’s not saying much. Both Corey Crawford and Carey Price had great nights but it was Crawford who made the bigger saves seeing fewer shots. It’s a disturbing trend.

The Hawks get a goal or two from a main-line player but nothing else, especially from the bottom end of the roster. Bryan Bickell had seven shots on net but how many were dangerous chances? Not many.

Ryan Johnson probably had the best chance after Patrick Kane’s second period goal. Jake Dowell set him up on a shorthanded try but Price made the big save and a few more after that.

Sensing the offensive malaise, Quenneville split up Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for the first time since February, reuniting Toews with Marian Hossa. They had their moments but nothing to show for it in the box score.

The Hawks continue to do things the hard way but nothing is lost yet. And if referees need to be perfect, the Hawks are really walking a tight rope. A few more goals will make a world of difference, and take those refs off the front page.


-Patrick Kane’s 27th goal of the season was his 300th career point.

-Troy Brouwer left the game after falling on his right shoulder trying to deliver check. Joel Quenneville said he would be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

-Dallas was a 3-0 winner over Columbus and moved into ninth place in the conference, two points behind the Hawks.

-Wednesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues begins at 7 p.m.