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Power-play struggles costing Blackhawks

3/23/2014

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks proved last season they didn't need a consistently successful power play to win a Stanley Cup.

That doesn't mean the Blackhawks weren't looking to obtain that this season.

The Blackhawks had been moving in a positive direction with their power play for the first two-thirds of the season. They were among the league's top-five power plays leading up to the Olympic break. They scored 21 goals on 92 opportunities and were ranked third with a 22.8 power-play percentage through 60 games.

That has changed since they returned from the break. Looking a lot like last season's power play, the Blackhawks have scored five goals on 41 chances for a 12.2 power-play percentage in their past 12 games.

The Blackhawks' lack of success on the power play has been costly in the middle of a playoff race as they have lost six games by 1-2 goals and have been held to two or fewer goals in seven games since Feb. 27. On Sunday, their power play failed on all four chances, including one that lasted 3:23, in a 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators.

"You're going to have stretches where it's really good, very effective, and you're going to have some stretches where it dries up," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're going to need that thing going here soon."

The Blackhawks were without a key piece to their power-play puzzle for the second consecutive game as Patrick Kane was out because of a lower-body injury. He will sit out the rest of the regular season. But even before the Blackhawks lost Kane, their power play was struggling.

The Blackhawks' first power-play unit included Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Andrew Shaw and Duncan Keith on Sunday, and the second unit included Kris Versteeg, Brandon Saad, Nick Leddy, Brent Seabrook and Ben Smith. The two units combined for seven shots on goal.

Toews wasn't panicking about their recent woes.

"We had some parts of the game where we played pretty well," Toews said. "We again just couldn't convert on the power play, didn't really get any of those second chances we were looking for. Frustrating not to be able to find the offense.

"[The power play's] definitely got to be better. But I don't think we're concerned. We got to focus on it. We got to find the solution. We're not putting any more pressure on ourselves than we have to."