Halak, Blues quiet Hawks

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Halak, Blues quiet Hawks

ST. LOUIS The Blackhawks got pushed around physically against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Nevertheless, they could have delivered a few blows of their own on the power play.

But once again they were punch less on it.

Andrew Brunette scored an early third-period goal but the Blackhawks went 0 for 5 on the power play en route to a 5-1 loss to the Blues on Tuesday night. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Blackhawks, who remain in sixth place in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks lost defenseman Sami Lepisto in the second period when he collided with David Perron and Perron fell on the back of his left leg. Lepisto struggled to get to the locker room, putting no weight on that leg; coach Joel Quenneville said hes day to day, and that it wasnt serious.

The Blues came with their usual brawn and bruising style hometown man Brandon Bollig had a long and impressive fight with Ryan Reaves in the first period. The Blues came with scoring, too, with TJ Oshie giving them a 1-0 lead a little over five minutes into the game.

Yeah, that was probably one of their goals tonight was to play physical against us. It seemed to work for them. But we have to have a better start than that, Patrick Kane said. We knew they were going to come out hard. Giving up a goal that early its tough to come back, especially against a team like that thats content to just play defense and not give up anything.

But the Blackhawks had their best chance to fight back with their power play.

But on a night when they needed it most, it disappeared.

We didnt push back in certain areas but I thought we had a chance to get ourselves back in with the power play and thats where we lost the momentum, coach Joel Quenneville said. Certain guys tonight didnt have the pace or intensity you need on the power play. You have to work harder on the power play, its not a given.

As good as the Blackhawks had played the Blues recently, they didnt have that same energy and fight against them on Tuesday. Their puck possession was rough and the Blues were more than happy to take advantage of mistakes. That included a mishandled puck on one of the power plays, which the Blues Vladimir Sobotka, to be specific turned into a short-handed goal.

We clicked (on the power play) in three games but tonight we couldnt settle the puck down, couldnt make a pass, said Marian Hossa. We didnt deserve to win tonight.

The Blackhawks didnt have the punch they needed against the Blues, especially on that power play. Their special teams had been strong in recent victories. They failed them tonight.

Special teams are something to get momentum off, even when its not scoring a goal maybe its puck possession or a couple blocks on the PK. Tonight they won that, and thats tough, Stalberg said. We have a lot of games this year where those kinds of chances take us out of the game.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host 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 7 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. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, and have eliminated the Minnesota Wild from the playoffs three times from 2013-15.

But it's the Wild that NHL coaches believe will win the Western Conference this season as we approach the trade deadline.

In his annual midseason poll, TSN's Bob McKenzie surveyed 25 of 30 coaches to vote on multiple categories, such as the league's best player and the team most likely to win it all.

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According to the survey, 11 coaches predicted the Wild will win the West while the Blackhawks and Sharks tied for second with four votes.

As for winning the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals are the favorite, earning 10 votes, followed closely by the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins with eight. The Wild and Blackhawks rounded out the poll with three and two votes, respectively.

Joel Quenneville earned one vote as the NHL's best coach, which is three fewer votes than he had last year, despite this year being arguably his most challenging — and best — coaching job since arriving in Chicago, given the youth on the roster.