Blackhawks shoot blanks as skid reaches three

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Blackhawks shoot blanks as skid reaches three

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011
Posted 9:33 PM Updated 10:39 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. The Chicago Blackhawks have had trouble keeping other teams off the scoreboard in third periods. Too often this season, a tie or slim lead has turned into a loss late.

But on Sunday, the Blackhawks had one of their stronger third-period performances against the Anaheim Ducks. Unfortunately, it still didnt reap any rewards.

Bryan Bickell scored his 11th goal of the season but the Blackhawks could manage nothing else despite a late flurry of shots in a 2-1 loss to the Ducks at the Honda Center on Sunday. The Blackhawks lost their third consecutive game.

It wasnt for lack of trying in the third, when the Blackhawks fired 19 of their 40 shots on Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller. But whether it was Hillers stellar stops or bad luck, the Blackhawks couldnt muster a goal.

Hiller stopped Jack Skilles tying attempt with a goal-line glove save that was briefly reviewed. Viktor Stalberg thought he tied it late but his shot, aimed for a gaping net, deflected off Dave Bollands stick.

We almost tied it at the end and it goes off one of our guys stick right before its going into the net. That pretty much sums it up right there, goaltender Corey Crawford said. We played good enough to win this game.

Stalberg was about to raise his hands to celebrate before seeing what happened.

I just saw the puck go past the goalie and past everyone else, so I assumed it was in the net, Stalberg said. But it hit a blade and its not even their player. We had a couple of bad breaks in that period that shouldve gone in the net. Thats the way it goes.

The Blackhawks had 21 shots in the first two periods combined. But the quality chances were definitely in the third and not getting at least one of those in left the team frustrated.

It just seemed like the puck was just in front of the net bouncing over our sticks at the last second for some reason. It was just unlucky, Skille said. We just have to get grittier in front of the net, get into puck areas and make sure the next time we have opportunities we have to bear down.

Patrick Kane said it seems like we turned it up in the third and played a different style of hockey. We play like that the whole game I dont think many teams are going to beat us.

The Blackhawks could be getting captain Jonathan Toews back for Monday nights game against Los Angeles, which is definitely good news. The bad news is theyre missing opportunities to get valuable points. The Western Conference is tight and will continue to be so. The Blackhawks dont want to get too far behind in the race.

Every games going to be important all year long. They keep getting bigger and bigger as we go along here, coach Joel Quenneville said. We have to respond to the challenge and we have to play inspired hockey. That was a good third period for us. We needed to generate more scoring chances in the first 40.

Briefly

Blackhawks center Jake Dowell did not play at all in the third period. Quenneville said Jakes fine, but didnt elaborate on why he didnt play during the final period.

Crawford stopped 16 of 18 shots in his first game back from the flu that he suffered from through the Christmas break. My timing was a little off in the first and felt pretty good in the second and third.

Nick Boynton and John Scott were the Blackhawks healthy scratches on Sunday.

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

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the latest slump and how much does Artem Anisimov's injury play a role in their struggles?

Konroyd tells us he was surprised by Ryan Hartman's benching in Tampa.

The guys play the game, playoff minutes or press box minutes?  They run through the players who are on the bubble when it comes to postseason play.

They also discuss the Hawks chances of overtaking Washington for the President's trophy.

Plus, Konroyd breaks down possible first round opponents: St Louis, Calgary and Nashville.

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.