Costly turnovers doom Blackhawks in sixth-straight loss

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Costly turnovers doom Blackhawks in sixth-straight loss

DENVER The Blackhawks locker room was silent once again late Tuesday night. It was another game with the same issues: Mistakes led to odd-man rushes and too many opposing goals. The power play was futile.

And it led to the same outcome theyve now had for six consecutive games.

David Jones scored two goals as the Avalanche scored three unanswered in the third period to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Tuesday. The Blackhawks are now 0-5-1 in their last six. And they also lost defenseman Steve Montador to an upper-body injury in the second period. Coach Joel Quenneville said theyll know more on Montadors status on Wednesday.

While the Blackhawks are still sixth in the Western Conference with 65 points, the gap between them and their Central Division foes is growing. Idle Detroit has 72 points. St. Louis is in fourth in the West with 69. Fifth-place Nashville, which gained another point Tuesday night, also has 69.

But the Blackhawks arent worried about other teams. They have enough issues of their own. Turnovers led to Avalanche goals, they gave up too many odd-man rushes and their power play was helpless in trying to even the score.

We look at the last three games: were tied going in the third in Edmonton, late in the second in Calgary and today tied going into the third and we give up a goal right off the bat. Its something we just talked about, Quenneville said. Its disappointing, especially with this team off the rush.

Duncan Keith said its a tight game and all of a sudden some plays happen in the third where its in the back of our net. It seems like any little mistake is costing us right now, and thats the way it goes on a losing streak.

Ray Emery stopped 24 of 28 in his second consecutive start, but pointed to what he didnt thwart.

I want to stop both of those last ones, he said. I judge myself on wins and losses. We needed a win and we didnt get it. No, Im not satisfied (with my game).

Turnovers led to the Avs first two goals, which they scored within 35 seconds of each other in the second period. Patrick Kanes goal tied it 6:14 into the second period. But once the third started, the trouble escalated. Gabriel Ladeskog scored just 38 seconds into the frame and the Blackhawks wouldnt score again.

The opportunities were there, as the Blackhawks had two power plays in the third period. But as in their previous three games, it yielded nothing. The Blackhawks are now 0-for-10 on the man advantage over their last four games.

We had some chances before the power play, but we lost a lot of momentum tonight (on it), Quenneville said. It was not good at all.

This road trip only gets tougher, with San Jose and Phoenix winner of three straight looming. The Blackhawks are well aware of their problems. Fixing them is the tougher part.

I dont really know what to say at this point. It sucks. Its not like were enjoying this, Jonathan Toews said. Were trying to fix the problem. No ones running away from it. Were looking at each other in the eye and were expecting every guy to be better and pick up the slack, and thats what weve got to do. We have to face these problems as a team, not as separate individuals.

First goal with Blackhawks 'a release' for Tomas Jurco

First goal with Blackhawks 'a release' for Tomas Jurco

Tomas Jurco's reaction to his first goal on Monday night was as much celebration as a little bit of relief. The forward, acquired by the Blackhawks about a month ago, had had a few great scoring chances in recent games but just couldn't capitalize.

Finally, he got that first of the season against Tampa Bay.

"It's kind of a release, you know?" Jurco said on Wednesday. "I've had a lot of good chances and it would just never go in for some reason. Obviously I'm very happy that it went in and hopefully this is the start of, I would say, more luck for me."

Looking for consistency in his own game as well as a consistent spot in the lineup, Jurco was looking for a boost of confidence. Getting that first goal could be part of it, as a bit of a weight disappears with that zero in the goal column. 

"That's a hurdle that can be in the back of your mind a lot and all of a sudden it could be a nice release," coach Joel Quenneville said of that first goal. "He's progressing in our team game, technically. Whether it's his pace of play or going to the right areas quickly, we're looking for progression. We saw it [Monday] night and I think he'll continue to get better off that. But certainly that should help him get confidence as we go along here."

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Jurco's been around the net, something the Blackhawks always encourage, for most of those scoring opportunities. Perhaps some of that puck luck wasn't quite there. But Jurco is gaining confidence in recent games, and getting that goal could boost it that much more.

"I've always said, especially in my case, scoring helps that confidence come easier. It brings that fun to the game," Jonathan Toews said. "Maybe if you're not feeling it or not playing with high energy, at a certain point in a game when you score, for some reason you get that jolt, you get that jump. For [Jurco], he's been playing well when he's been in, and no doubt that scoring a goal like that can help boost confidence and help him find his game, which we know he has and will continue to show."

The scoring hurdle has been cleared and Jurco is gaining confidence. Will he carve out a consistent spot in the lineup? Quenneville has some options through the bottom six. That, coupled with the Blackhawks playing inconsistent hockey lately and missing that four-line rotation, Jurco's been one of several who have been in and out of the lineup. But Quenneville said on Wednesday, "I don't see making constant changes once the [playoffs] begin." If Jurco keeps getting chances and capitalizing on a few, and if he ends up as part of a rotation that's successful again, he could stick.

Jurco waited a little bit for that first goal. He hopes it's just the start.

"You know eventually it's going to go in but it was just frustrating. Another game and another and another with good chances and it just wouldn't go in. So it's a big release," Jurco said. "Hopefully I'll keep going, keep producing."

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