SAN JOSE, Ca. The response to Jonathan Toews getting knocked around was much like the Blackhawks overall performance on their winless skid: it was there, but it needed to be more and it needed to be quicker.
Toews was roughed up early, and the Blackhawks couldnt get retribution on the scoreboard as the San Jose Sharks beat them 5-3 at HP Pavilion on Friday night. It was another frustrating game for the Blackhawks, who are now winless in seven straight (0-6-1).
The Blackhawks are still somehow in sixth place in the Western Conference, but theyre still losing ground in points. First-place Detroit is now 11 points ahead of them.
The Hawks talked positives after Fridays game but that was little consolation in the grand scheme of things. They still allowed three Sharks power-play goals, two of which put them in an early 2-0 hole and those little gaffes once again turned into big opposing goals.
The Sharks used their physical edge early and often, with Toews in the crosshairs. When Sharks captain Joe Thornton took a few shots at Toews, the Blackhawks didnt respond as quickly as they should have. And when defenseman Sean ODonnnell and Duncan Keith did respond it somehow became a Sharks power play.
Its a little confusing how we get the extra penalty there. Im not sure how many free shots theyre allowed to get. We defend ourselves and get the extra two minutes, Toews said. Its tough to look on the bright side of things but we played hard out there. We saw some fights, saw some scratching and clawing, some battling in front of the net. We played the way we had to. We just gave them too many opportunities on the power play and thats how they separated themselves.
Corey Crawford struggled again, allowing five goals on 27 shots. Asked about goaltending after, coach Joel Quenneville said that has to be better.
The Blackhawks did show their best mettle in the second period, when two Marcus Kruger goals tied the game at 2. Jamal Mayers, who fought Ryan Clowe and was also part of the scuffle with Toews -- was also put on the top line for protective measure. It worked, by the way.
I think that there were a few things said to get us back on track and to be a little more resilient, Mayers said of the first intermission. We know how we have to play. Weve been talking about it for a couple days. Its about executing.
But it was the poor execution that overshadowed things once again. Viktor Stalberg had another costly turnover he didnt play much after committing it, either the Blackhawks gave up another power-play goal and Crawford was too far out of the net again.
The Blackhawks keep trying to find the positives in this skid. There were some here and there, and their second period was a reminder of what they can do when they want to. But the good moments, like physical retaliations, havent been enough to outweigh the problems.
These are tough times right now, said Marian Hossa. We need to get out of the slump. We talk about it, but we cant just put our heads down. We just have to battle through it. Obviously its not a fun time right now.