Blackhawks tripped up in shootout loss to Canucks

Blackhawks tripped up in shootout loss to Canucks

December 20, 2013, 9:30 pm
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The Chicago Blackhawks’ power play has given them a lot of offense lately. Unfortunately, the one night a power-play goal could’ve made the difference, they couldn’t get one.

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist to continue his latest point streak, but the Blackhawks couldn’t capitalize on their power-play opportunities as the Vancouver Canucks came back to beat them 3-2 in the shootout on Friday night. The Blackhawks have still collected points in seven of their last eight games but were blanked on their power play and struggled in eight shootout rounds.

Ryan Kesler won it in the shootout for the Canucks, who were down 2-0 early in the second period. The Canucks are now 9-8-3 in games when their opponent scores first.

The Blackhawks’ power play has done a 180-degree turn this season, and had tallied at least one goal in each of their last 10 games. But against Vancouver’s No. 1-ranked penalty kill, it fell silent.

“We didn’t capitalize on the opportunities on the power play. That might have been the difference tonight,” said Kris Versteeg, who scored his seventh of the season tonight. “They fight for every puck (on the kill), blocking and sliding and doing whatever it takes. We had our opportunities and looks. They just didn’t go in.”

Coach Joel Quenneville agreed it could’ve been the difference.

“It would’ve been a big plus for us,” Quenneville said of scoring on the power play. “They kill penalties well. There’s no time or space and we didn’t shoot enough and try to get more disruptive. They’re at the top of the league (in the penalty kill) for the right reasons. We saw how effective it was tonight.”

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Still, the Blackhawks had a chance in the shootout. Antti Raanta, who had a tough outing in his first NHL shootout, allowed just one shot through the first seven rounds of tonight’s shootout before Kesler won it in the eighth. The Blackhawks could muster little on their side, however, as Patrick Sharp was the only one to get it past Eddie Lack, who was facing the Blackhawks for the first time in his career.

“When the first one went in I thought, ‘Oh god, this is it,’” Raanta said of Mike Santorelli’s shot on him. “But I good save off that (next one) and a couple more. Of course, the opponent made one more goal than us, so we lose again in the shootout. But we made some progress. It was a little better than last time.”

Quenneville said the Blackhawks’ shootout, in which he led with Kane tonight, has been “dry.”

“(Raanta) gave us a chance. We go that deep, we need to get some production,” Quenneville said. “It’s an ongoing thing where shootouts have been just OK.”

The Blackhawks got the start they wanted. Kane’s first shot was deflected by Versteeg for a 1-0 lead 7:49 into the game, as Kane now has points in 11 consecutive games, as well as 23 of his last 24 contests. He added his 21st goal of the season about five minutes into the second period for a 2-0 lead.

[MORE: Eddie Lack's composure pays off in Canucks' win]

Then the Canucks tightened things, and allowed the Blackhawks nothing on their power plays, nixing all four of them.

The Blackhawks are still collecting points. They could’ve collected one more if their power play had displayed the same production it’s had the past 10 games. As Jonathan Toews said, “you can’t win them all.”

“The power play could’ve made the difference and it didn’t quite do that,” Toews said. “We’ll keep trying to improve on both, and be aware that special teams can make the difference and find ways to win games for us.”