Hawks' comeback falls short in shootout loss to Canucks

Despite loss, Coach Q praises Saad's effort against Canucks

Hawks' comeback falls short in shootout loss to Canucks
February 2, 2013, 12:15 am
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Highlights: Hawks can't solve Luongo in shootout loss

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Chicago Blackhawks’ penalty kill is just fine. Corey Crawford is doing just fine. But in the last two games, there’s been a decided downturn in the Blackhawks’ scoring production. And for the second consecutive game, it cost them two points.

Patrick Kane tied the game late, but the Blackhawks came up short in the shootout for the second consecutive game en route to a 2-1 loss on Friday night. The Blackhawks keep finding a way to get points, as they’ve collected at least one in each of their first eight games.

Now they’ll see if they lose their second-line center. Dave Bolland suffered a lower-body injury in the third period and had to be helped to the locker room. He did not return, and coach Joel Quenneville said “we’ll know more tomorrow. We’ll have a better assessment.” Replays showed Canucks forward Jannik Hansen hit Bolland’s right ankle with his stick, and Bolland was furious as he got off the ice. Quenneville said he had “no complaints” on there not being a penalty.

For all the ballyhoo prior to tonight’s game, with the Canucks still seething over Duncan Keith’s elbow to Daniel Sedin’s head last March, you would’ve thought it would be the usual snarly, snarky, venomous contest the two have played so many times in the past. Instead it was just one more game in the lockout-shortened season, although this one was another tight game in a matchup that’s had plenty of them.

For the Blackhawks, it was a pretty solid game. The offense just wasn’t there again.

“We had a lot of opportunities to win that game. We just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Jonathan Toews said “Corey (Crawford) played well and we were great on the penalty kill again. But whether it’s power play or 5 on 5, we have to make something happen and distance ourselves earlier in the game.”

Brandon Saad had a team-high four shots on goal and drew two penalties in what Quenneville called “a special game.” Crawford stopped 21-of-22 in regulation and overtime before Jordan Schroeder’s shot went through his legs in the shootout’s fourth round.

While that vaunted Blackhawks penalty kill was stellar again, nixing all four of Vancouver’s opportunities, their power play was a quiet 0-for-5. It didn’t help that Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo had another strong game, holding a shutout until Kane’s goal, off a pretty pass from Shaw, midway through the third.

And the shootout, which the Blackhawks struggled with last season, came up short again. Toews, Kane and Patrick Sharp couldn’t get one past Luongo, and fourth-round shooter Nick Leddy’s attempt hit iron.

“He’s been good at it every time we go in our (intra-squad) games and down in Rockford,” Quenneville said on Leddy. “He’s deceiving and he’s familiar with it. We’ve been looking for some guys to break through in that area. The last couple of years it’s been a sore spot. He deserved a chance, and had a chance.”

Toews said, “games are won and lost in the shootout, and we’re 0-2 looking at that. We’ll focus on that and be ready for the next opportunity to swing it the other way.”

The Blackhawks came up just short again. But they’re still getting points. And in this 48-game season, every one of them will help.

“Obviously it’s frustrating losing in the shootout but it’s good to get the point,” Crawford said. “We definitely had our chances and eventually they’re going to go in for us.”