Blackhawks dealing with pressure of slump

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Blackhawks dealing with pressure of slump

Sean ODonnell looked no further than Sundays Super Bowl for inspiration regarding the Chicago Blackhawks recent woes.

If you asked the (New York) Giants in week 10 or 12 how their season was looking, it wasnt too good. And that turned out OK, ODonnell said, referring to the champions. Before the five-(game winless streak) we were tied for first in the NHL. In the big picture, teams are going to have bumps.

True, all teams go through their ups and downs. But its still the how the Blackhawks downs have gone that is most troubling. And with another six straight games on the road, its not going to get any easier.

The Blackhawks will try to turn things around when they take on the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. The 0-4-1 record in their last five is tough enough, but the Blackhawks road record hasnt been strong overall. Theyre 10-11-3 outside of Chicago this season, good for 20th in the league.

So considering the first trifecta didnt go so well, is there more pressure on this next set of three games?

I think you have to take it as a fresh start, Viktor Stalberg said. We had our goal to play about .500 in each leg, and we have to get back and start with that. Theres no point going and feeling you have to win three out of three. You have to start somewhere and you have to start picking up some points.

And it has to start in Denver. And according to the Blackhawks, it has to start with getting back to basics: make simple plays, put defense first and go from there.

ODonnell admits slumps are difficult.

When youre in the middle of it one it feels like youre drowning or swimming upstream. But wed rather go through it now than in April or potentially May, he said. I think were going to be better for it. Its going to get us back to our roots and how we need to play defensively. Thats been our Achilles heel the first 50 games. Well get out of this and move forward.

The Blackhawks have been saying all the right things through this slump. Now they have to do all the right things to end it. The pressures not going to get any lighter.

When things arent going your way you have to play simple and hard and things will turn around, Stalberg said. We have too much talent and were too good of a team in here not to turn it around.

Blackhawks blow three-goal lead, fall in OT at Lightning

Blackhawks blow three-goal lead, fall in OT at Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Yanni Gourde had a breakaway goal 4:25 into overtime and the Tampa Bay Lightning rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Monday night.

Victor Hedman set up the winner with his third assist of the game.

Tampa Bay, which trails Boston by a point for the second Eastern Conference wild card, got two goals from Jonathan Drouin. Ondrej Palat and Anton Stralman also scored, and Andrei Vasilevskiy, who got pulled 14 minutes into the first after allowing three goals on eight shots, returned to start the second and finished with 25 saves.

Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, Tomas Jurco and Richard Panik scored for the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks, who were coming off a 7-0 loss Saturday night at Florida. Scott Darling stopped 25 shots.

After the Blackhawks went up 4-1 midway through the second on Panik's goal, Tampa Bay tied it at 4 on Drouin's goals and one by Stralman in a 4:39 span.

Chicago took a 3-1 lead after the first period on goals by Panarin, Kane and Jurco. Palat, playing in his 300th NHL game, had the Tampa Bay goal.

Palat and Drouin's second goal came on power plays after Chicago was penalized for delay of game after shooting the puck over the glass.

The Blackhawks have the 24th ranked short-handed unit in the NHL.

Nikita Kucherov had two assists to set a Tampa Bay record for points in a single month with 22. The right wing has four assists and 11 points during a five-game point streak.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. How will Blackhawks respond to worst loss of season?

The Blackhawks suffered their worst loss of the season on Saturday in a 7-0 rout at the hands of the Panthers. It was the first time they've lost by at least seven goals since 2011 when Edmonton beat them 9-2 and the first time they lost 7-0 since 2001 against San Jose; the Blackhawks lost to Washington 6-0 earlier this year. But by no means was Saturday their worst effort of the season. A questionable interference penalty by Marcus Kruger led to a two-man advantage, which Florida cashed in on with a goal and another shortly after, and it opened up the floodgates. Expect a big bounce-back against a hungry Lightning team.

2. Lightning fighting for playoff lives.

Every game is a must-win for the Lightning with eight games remaining on their schedule. They're three points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on the Bruins, who currently occupy that spot, but still have to jump the Islanders. The Lightning didn't do themselves any favors by losing three straight in regulation last week, but they've won two in a row and tonight will be the first of a four-game homestand for them.

3. Keep the puck off Nikita Kucherov's stick.

There isn't a hotter player in the NHL right now than Kucherov, who has seven goals and two assists in his last four games. He's had two hat tricks in the past month, and he ranks sixth in the league with 78 points and second in goals with 38. You know how lethal Artemi Panarin's slapshot is from the left faceoff circle? That's Kucherov, but on the right side.

4. Staying disciplined.

The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team in the league, but they acted out of character Saturday by racking up 30 penalty minutes. They were also slapped with a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties, which isn't something you normally see from Joel Quenneville's teams. Ryan Hartman, who along with Marcus Kruger was penalized for "yapping" at the officials, accepted responsibility for it after the game, and insisted it "won't happen again."

5. Special teams to play key factor?

On the flip side, the Lightning are the second-most penalized team, averaging just over 11 penalty minutes per game. Power plays will be key for the Blackhawks in an effort to keep Tampa Bay's collection of talented young goal scorers off the ice. The Lightning also boast a top-five power play unit with a 22 percent success rate. Both teams would be better served staying out of the box and making this a 5-on-5 battle.

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