Hawks fall in return to United Center

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Hawks fall in return to United Center

The Blackhawks werent throwing out the tired excuse on Tuesday night, and they werent willing to use it when they were asked about it.

Nevertheless, they sure looked it.

Four different Coyotes scored, including Shane Doan with the game-winner, as the Blackhawks dropped a 4-1 decision to Phoenix at the United Center on Tuesday night.

The Blackhawks, who wrapped up their 13-day road trip on Saturday night, were looking to bring their road game at least the California part of it -- home. Instead they looked sluggish against a Coyotes team that improved to 7-3-1 on the road this season.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Monday that a game like Tuesdays was potentially dangerous: jet lag, tired legs and trying to get too cute at home could be culprits against a solid road team like Phoenix. And it looked like one or a few of those were at play, as the Blackhawks showed little fire or push-back against the Coyotes.

There were a couple of shifts that there was some (energy) but it wasnt enough for me, Quenneville said. We were really weak in the puck area. They had better, quicker sticks and quicker feet. We didnt win any puck battles.

Duncan Keith said I dont know if it was lack of energy. We were skating out there, we just didnt accomplish anything. Wed get the puck out of our zone and it seemed like it was rammed right back into it. It seemed like they were on top of us every time. I dont know if thats energy or just being smart with the puck.

And they didnt do much with the puck when they did possess it. The Blackhawks were once again looking for the perfect scoring opportunity instead of just firing it at Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, who stopped 24 of 25 for his 12th victory this season.

Only Patrick Sharps power-play goal with 42.9 seconds got past Smith. Otherwise, it was just a lifeless night for the Blackhawks.

You sure fatigue didnt creep in just a little bit?

Maybe, but its still not an excuse, especially at this level and at home, Patrick Kane said. There should be enough energy and motivation to play in front of our own crowd and adrenaline to build off that, so thats really not an excuse for us.

Corey Crawford allowed all four goals and was pulled after Whitneys score 5:02 into the third period. Damon Langkow, Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney also scored for the Coyotes, who will be back here on Monday night.

The Blackhawks wanted to continue their roll started in the Los Angeles area. Instead they came out decent and went to flat pretty quick. Theyll get some rest now before hosting the New York Islanders on Friday. By then, fatigue definitely wont be a potential excuse.

We know that scoring first was important, Quenneville said. We had a decent start. They played that perfect checking game and it frustrated us. It wasnt pretty.

Carbomb radio

Forward Daniel Carcillo will host a new show called The Bomb Shelter, debuting on Dec. 2 at 11 p.m. The hour-long program will focus on Carcillos love of all types of music, as well as personal anecdotes, special guests and more. Future shows will air following weekend home games on dates yet to be announced.

Briefly

Niklas Hjalmarsson was a minus-3 for the Blackhawks on Tuesday night.

Sami Lepisto, John Scott and Ben Smith were the Blackhawks healthy scratches.

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

The Blackhawks have talked the past several games now about how they need to play better, how they need to get back to their 60-minute game. But even when you tell yourself you have to improve the message doesn't always translate into immediate action. That's especially true if, despite so-so play, you're still managing victories or still eking out a point.

Sometimes, you need a jolt to realize you have to get better. Well, that thud the Blackhawks made in South Florida ought to get their attention. 

The Blackhawks' 7-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, that "ugly, ugly game," as coach Joel Quenneville, is the latest in what's been a mediocre stretch for the team. They've been leaning on their goaltending again (please see Minnesota, Montreal, Ottawa and Dallas games). Or they've been leaning on their ability to wake up in the third period after sleepwalking through the first two. Sixty-minute games and four-line rotations, such a big part of the Blackhawks' success through February and early March, have been absent.

Call it the Blackhawks' mid-March malaise.

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It hasn't been more painful because the Blackhawks have still found ways to get points. Or at least they did until Saturday night, when two "yapping" penalties – Quenneville's (accurate) description of Ryan Hartman and Marcus Kruger's unsportsmanlike calls – started the Blackhawks' demise against the Panthers. Players told the traveling media following the game that this was a wake-up call. It ought to be.

Granted, the Blackhawks' late-season issues aren't as bad as some of their fellow Western Conference teams. The Minnesota Wild are 3-10-1 in March. The San Jose Sharks have lost six in a row. This also isn't the first time the Blackhawks have gone through this late-season mediocrity.

Entering the 2015 postseason they struggled to score goals and lost four in a row (five goals in those four games). It turned out alright. Still, best to avoid bad habits.

Perhaps the Blackhawks are in a bit of a swoon because, really, there's not much for which to play in these final few games. They don't care if they win the Presidents' Trophy (and they probably won't). They're currently in first place by seven points following the Wild's 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit on Sunday. Whether the Blackhawks finish first or second, they'll start this postseason at home. 

So is this panic-inducing? No. Is it a concern? Certainly. The Blackhawks can't start thinking they'll automatically flip the switch as soon as the postseason begins.

The Blackhawks want to get their four-line rotation going again. Artem Anisimov returning in the next week or two will certainly help that. They want to get their overall game going again. The Blackhawks have been telling themselves what needs to be done for a few games now. Maybe they needed a wake-up call. On Saturday, they got it. 

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks give up season-high seven goals

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks give up season-high seven goals

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