Blackhawks committ 'cardinal sins' in wild loss

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Blackhawks committ 'cardinal sins' in wild loss

Coach Joel Quenneville was frustrated enough at what the Chicago Blackhawks didn't get against the Colorado Avalanche. But he saved his real anger for what they allowed.

Gabriel Landeskog scored with less than two minutes remaining in regulation and the Blackhawks' poor defense against that and three other goals cost them in a 5-4 shootout loss to Colorado on Saturday night.

The Blackhawks went up 4-3 on Marian Hossa's goal with 5:27 remaining in regulation before Landeskog's tying goal. They had a 4-on-3 power play in overtime and the shootout to still salvage a victory but came up empty in both.

But the lack of defense was what ate at Quenneville.

"We gave them four goals. All four are cardinal sins on how we defend situational plays," said Quenneville, whose frustration peaked with the Avalanche's fourth goal. "You could say one was worse than the other and it got progressively worse for me. Bad bounce (on the fourth goal)? No, bad play by us."

Joakim Lindstrom was the lone player to connect in the shootout; Lindstrom did a double fake before beating Corey Crawford with a wrister. Michael Frolik, Jonathan Toews and Jamal Mayers also scored for the Blackhawks. Duncan Keith had two assists. Paul Stastny and David Jones also scored for the Avlanche.

Landeskog was by himself for the tying goal after several Blackhawks focused on Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly, who fed Landeskog from the left-side boards. For a team that prides itself on a defense -- and that defense has been pretty solid otherwise this season -- Saturday was disappointing.

"Every goal was directly our responsibility," Quenneville said. "We know how to play those situations. We can't serve them up like we did tonight."

The Blackhawks nevertheless had a chance in overtime when they had nearly two minutes of a 4-on-3 power play. They came up empty.

And the shootout also remained anemic, as Viktor Stalberg, Patrick Kane and Toews failed to get one past Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The Blackhawks have yet to connect on it this season (0 for 6 shots).

"We've got to be better at that, too," Kane said. "Obviously you're not going to score if you're 0 for 3 and you give three of their best shooters a chance. It's something we've got to be better at."

Quenneville said he didn't like the Blackhawks' approach on the shootout and that they "have to do something different" to get it going.

"These guys know those situations and how they see it and feel it," Quenneville said. "Whatever thought process you have, sometimes you may be able to be flexible."

Regardless of the disappointing ending, the Blackhawks are still collecting points. They've gotten at least one in six of their first seven games -- the season opener in Dallas is their only regulation loss. The Blackhawks got away from their sound defense on Saturday night. They'll be looking to get it back quick.

"Obviously you want to keep that (late) lead but bounces happen sometime," Stalberg said. "They ended up with a fluke breakaway, I thought, but we should not let that happen, for sure."

Briefly

Patrick Sharp played in his 500th NHL game on Saturday; he also recorded his team-high fifth assist, on Hossa's goal.

Hossa has now scored a goal in each of his last four games. Toews has a goal in each of his last three games.

Jonathan Toews sets up game-winner as Team Canada wins World Cup

Jonathan Toews sets up game-winner as Team Canada wins World Cup

Jonathan Toews set up the game-winning goal to Brad Marchand as Team Canada rallied back to beat Europe, 2-1, to complete the two-game sweep in the final at the World Cup of Hockey.

After Patrice Bergeron tied the game with a tip-in on the power play late in the third period, Drew Doughty was sent to the box for tripping, giving Europe a power play for a chance to respond.

But midway through the man advantage, the Blackhawks captain retrieved the puck and carried it into Europe territory before dropping it off to Marchand, who snapped home the shorthanded game-winner with 43 seconds remaining in regulation.

It was the second goal in a span of 2:09, helping Canada capture their second straight World Cup title (2004).

Sidney Crosby was named MVP of the tournament after scoring four goals and seven assists in six games. 

Toews was fourth among all players in the tournament with five points (three goals and two assists).

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson looked around the Blackhawks’ room at where fellow defensemen stalls would probably be as the season approached.

“You have Brian (Campbell) back, (Michal) Kempny here, obviously and all the other guys,” Gustafsson said. “It’s going to be tough, but I like it.”

The Blackhawks’ biggest Achilles heel last season was defense, especially after Trevor Daley was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That opened the door for young players, including Gustafsson, to get bigger opportunities. This year the defense should be stronger with Campbell’s return. So for guys like Gustafsson, cracking this lineup just got that much tougher.

During the summer, assistant coach Mike Kitchen talked potential pairings as Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson, Campbell-Brent Seabrook, Kempny-Trevor van Riemsdyk. As of now, the team is expecting Keith to be ready for the season opener. Keith has been participating in a practice a day but whether or not he plays in any preseason games is uncertain right now.

If it starts out that way, Gustafsson would be on the outside looking in.

But first things first: Gustafsson is focused on building off experience gained last season — he played 41 games, recording 14 assists — and cleaning up a few errors committed in training camp practices.

“You know all the guys on the team, you know how they want to play over here and in the NHL. Just go out and show them. I didn’t do that [Saturday] but this was the first game,” Gustafsson said. “I felt good with the puck but I have to play more defense in my own zone. Just a couple of small things I have to be better.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Nothing comes easy when you’re trying to make an NHL roster but it got that much tougher for a young defenseman with the Blackhawks this season. Hey, that’s the way it is, and players know it.

“Of course it’ll be tougher,” Gustafsson said. “It won’t be easy to take a spot. You just have to go out there, do your best and see what happens.”

BRIEFLY

- Patrick Kane could play in the Blackhawks’ game against St. Louis on Saturday. Assistant coach Kevin Dineen said, “don’t be surprised to see 88 politicking to get in the lineup. Pretty good chance we’ll see him on Saturday."

- The Blackhawks were off on Thursday. Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, Marcus Kruger and Hjalmarsson were expected to join the team at Friday’s practice

- Alexandre Fortin, who signed a three-year contract on Sunday, played 12 1/2 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That included about two minutes of power-play time. Dineen wouldn’t mind seeing Fortin in another game. “He showed himself well all camp and I think [Wednesday] we saw some good spurts out there, and we’ll find that consistency in a young player as we move forward.”