Blackhawks can't hold off Ducks, fall to eighth

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Blackhawks can't hold off Ducks, fall to eighth

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Posted 10:04 p.m. Updated 10:56 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

During their five-game home winning streak, the Chicago Blackhawks were holding onto third period leads instead of squandering them.

But on Saturday night, a bad late-game habit once again cost them.

Hossa: This one definitely hurts

Corey Perry scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner with 4:30 remaining in regulation, as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Blackhawks 2-1 at the United Center.

The loss flipped the Ducks and Blackhawks in the standings, with Anaheim moving up to seventh and the Hawks falling back to eighth. It was a big game, and the Blackhawks were stinging after not even coming away with a point.

The Blackhawks had kept the third-period push on during their latest run at home. They were looking for another goal, keeping their opponents on their heels. But on Saturday, that wasnt there. The Ducks, meanwhile, took advantage down the stretch.

That was a tough ending and obviously it was a brutal loss, coach Joel Quenneville said. Maybe a little higher push to get the second goal wouldve put us in a good spot. We were happy in that contain mode. We shouldve been pushing.

The Blackhawks went up 1-0 thanks to Marian Hossas goal about 13 minutes into the first period. But after some early solid offerings on Ducks goaltender Ray Emery, the Blackhawks good scoring opportunities lessened.

Sometimes we tried to look for a better play instead of looking for the rebound and ugly goals, Hossa said. We tried to be a little too cute and against a defensive team like this sometimes thats not going to work.

Corey Crawford staved off the Ducks chances through two-plus periods before Anaheims top line struck. A Blackhawks miscue led to a 3-on-2 for Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Perry, with Perry tying it barely a minute into the third period.

(The top three) dont need much opportunity to score, and we gave them a couple chances, and I think maybe I could have done a better job there on the first one, Duncan Keith said. Its tough, they make quick plays on their backhands, and theyre tough to read.

Perry added his NHL-leading 44th of the season with less than five minutes remaining.

Getting it to (overtime) was probably on both teams minds at the time. They got the break, Quenneville said. All three guys (Ducks top line) have great vision, puck possession and finishing ability. We have to know when theyre on the ice we have to be smart.

Now the Blackhawks quest for a playoff spot gets tougher. They leave Sunday for a three-game road trip, which includes games at Detroit and Boston on back-to-back nights. Theyve got two more games against the Red Wings after that.

Tough? Yes. Impossible? Hardly. But as the Blackhawks go forward, they have to stop committing the mistakes of the past.

This definitely hurts, Hossa said. Obviously we play a solid two periods and two goals in the third and we couldnt come back. Thats definitely a tough pill to swallow. We have to just dig ourselves out of it and make sure it cant happen again. The games are running down and this one was really important.

Kruger adjusting

Marcus Krugers linemates Troy Brouwer and Bryan Bickell said the young Swede is adjusting to the NHL game and his new Blackhawks teammates.

He defends well. He said he was nervous before the game so me and Bicks were trying to help him with that, Brouwer said. Everyones been there. My first game, I dont even remember half the game. Its tough sometimes but he did really well.

Kruger wasnt afraid to show a scrappy side, either, pushing a few Florida Panthers around in his debut on Wednesday.

He had a little bit of feistiness around the net, a little bit of pressure, Brouwer said. It was good to see him get right into the mix. When youre in the mix youre in the game.
Briefly

Brian Campbell was honored as Blackhawks Man of the Year prior to Saturday nights game.

John Scott was the lone healthy scratch on Saturday night.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Expectations for John Hayden in the playoffs

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Expectations for John Hayden in the playoffs

On this episode of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle breakdown Tuesday's controversial ending with Vancouver. They discuss whether Darling was interfered with on the game winning goal and did Toews deserve a penalty for running into Ryan Miller?

They also discuss the expectations for John Hayden and the tough lineup decisions at forward, that Joel Quenneville will have in the playoffs.

Tracey weighs in on who has been the more impressive goalie tandem, Crow and Emery in 2013 or this year's pair, Crow and Darling?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks want to finish strong while staying fresh for postseason

Blackhawks want to finish strong while staying fresh for postseason

Every team has goals it wants to hit at various parts of the season. At the start you want to be strong so you can save yourself a mad scramble to get into the postseason. In the middle, you want to just keep pace, get through that drudgery known as games 40-60.

But what about the end? If you're a playoff-bound team it's about reaching balance: you want to play your best hockey but also want to get your rest and conserve energy for the "next season."

The Blackhawks are in this mode right now. The postseason berth has been wrapped up. They've hit the 100-point mark and still maintain a six-point lead in the conference/division. So with nine games left the Blackhawks will try to get that overall play they had through most of February while being mindful of rest.

"We have [nine] to go and want to make sure we're fresh. At the same time, we want to be competitive," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're looking to play games and in games, if we have a chance to back off a little bit, that'll be dictated by the score, the time of the game."

Entering their last two games trailing by two, the Blackhawks haven't had the chance to back off. They've had to do the opposite. Quenneville has said the team's four-line rotation, which was great in February, hasn't been there the past few games. Part of that could be due to injury. Artem Anisimov has missed the last three-plus games with a left-leg injury and is still expected to miss another 2-3 weeks. The Blackhawks have found ways to win despite that, but want to get back to more consistent hockey.

"Obviously we still want to try to win our division you want to be playing well," Brian Campbell said. "The last [few] games have been OK, spurts and stuff, so we want to ramp it up. There are some guys who can probably back off if they need or want to, there are those situations. It's a good situation to have. But this team's been around, they know how to prepare and get ready for it."

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So does Quenneville. We've reached that time of the season when the Blackhawks won't practice much, if at all. They're playing every other day and their morning skates are their versions of practice. As for in games, the Blackhawks know how to keep their energy up there, too.

"I think just playing good hockey and taking short shifts is key. You're not extending shifts to a minute and a half, two minutes," Ryan Hartman said. "You're conserving some long-term energy."

The Blackhawks are nearing the regular-season finish line but another race awaits them. They want to be ready for the postseason but they don't want to get too relaxed down the stretch.

"It's still the regular season. Nobody's taking the foot off the gas pedal. We're still trying to win hockey games and you want to come into the playoffs with a winning atmosphere and winning attitude," Hartman said. "Take every game one at a time and don't try to play conservative. Play good and winning hockey."