LIVE: Sharp scores No. 34, Hawks trail 3-2

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LIVE: Sharp scores No. 34, Hawks trail 3-2

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
11:15 a.m.

Associated Press
An end to the Chicago Blackhawks' longest winning streak of the season slowed their pursuit of the lead in the Central Division.

A season-worst skid to start this month has cost the Tampa Bay Lightning their place atop the Southeast.

After their first loss in nine games, the Blackhawks will try to get back on track with their 11th win in 14 games against the Lightning on Wednesday night.

Chicago (37-24-6) was one win shy of matching the longest streak in franchise history, and six points behind Detroit in the Central heading into Tuesday's game against Florida.

The Blackhawks couldn't take advantage of the last-place Panthers, and had their eight-game run snapped as they gave up three first-period goals in a 3-2 loss.

Corey Crawford, who was making his 12th consecutive start in goal, was pulled after the opening 20 minutes, and Marty Turco was barely challenged in relief. Chicago got within one as Marian Hossa extended his point streak to eight games, but it couldn't find the equalizer despite a 29-7 shots advantage over the final two periods.

"I've been around a while and I don't know if I've ever seen a bigger lesson to be learned than I did tonight," Turco said. "Whatever it is we thought to ourselves or did, changed after one period. It was one heck of a wake-up call.

"The way we played (the last two periods) was unreal, but sometimes it's disappointing. Why can't we play like that all the time?"

A night earlier, the Lightning were left scratching their heads for a different reason. They couldn't figure out Washington rookie goaltender Braden Holtby in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Capitals, who now lead the Southeast.

Sean Bergenheim scored in the first period and Tampa Bay (37-21-8) stayed there for much of the game thanks to a strong effort from Dwayne Roloson in net. The Lightning, though, gave up the tying goal with 5:32 remaining in regulation, and couldn't get any of their three shots past Holtby in the tiebreaker.

Tampa Bay also had some bad luck as Vincent Lecavalier's third-period goal was disallowed due to goaltender interference.

The fourth straight defeat pushed the Lightning two points behind the Capitals in the division. Tampa Bay's 0-3-1 slump is its longest since a five-game skid last March 14-21.

"It's been a tough week, week and a half. That's why we have to battle and persist," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "It's easy to persist when things go easy. Now, they're just not turning our way."

Recent games against Chicago usually haven't gone Tampa Bay's way either as it's 2-9-1 with two ties in the last 14 matchups. The Blackhawks have outscored the Lightning 14-4 in the last three, including last season's 4-0 win at the United Center.

Jonathan Toews, who had a nine-game point streak snapped Tuesday, has registered four goals and an assist in those games. Patrick Kane, who is on a six-game point streak, has contributed two goals and five assists.

The Blackhawks are 3-0-1 with one tie in their last five trips to the St. Pete Times Forum.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

What to make of Blackhawks blockbuster deals

What to make of Blackhawks blockbuster deals

Before the clock struck noon on a day Chicago was hosting its first ever NHL Draft, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman sent shockwaves throughout the city and hockey world by completing a pair of blockbuster trades within an hour of each other.

The first was dealing three-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona, and the second involving Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad in a swap of talented wingers with Columbus.

This comes two days after the Blackhawks announced Marian Hossa will miss the 2017-18 campaign with a progressive skin disorder. That's three core players gone in the blink of an eye.

Who's ready for a new era in Chicago?

Rather than maximizing a championship window that was viewed as closing quickly, Bowman has elected to take a long-term approach and it might not be the worst idea.

There's no doubt the loss of Hjalmarsson, who remains one of the most underrated blue liners in the league, and Panarin, who finished in the top-10 in scoring among forwards in both of his first two NHL seasons, will sting.

But there's a good chance the Blackhawks wouldn't have been able to reward them with the pay raises they deserve after their contracts expire following the 2018-19 season, and that certainly played a huge role in the decision to head in a new direction.

In reacquiring Saad, the Blackhawks finally give Jonathan Toews that reliable left-winger they've desperately lacked since Saad was shipped out of town in 2015, providing balance throughout the top-six. Saad is also locked up for the next four years at a $6 million cap hit that will look better as time goes by.

For the last two years, the Blackhawks were known as a one-line scoring team thanks to the chemistry developed between Patrick Kane and Panarin.

The second-half emergence of Nick Schmaltz and familiarity Kane has developed with center Artem Anisimov has allowed Panarin to become expendable in their quest to solve their top-line woes. And that's not a bad consolation line, especially when you consider top prospect Alex DeBrincat could also be in the cards as early as this season.

On the back end, the Blackhawks receive a 24-year-old defenseman in Connor Murphy, who's also signed for the next four years at a $3.85 million cap hit, and carries a right-handed shot, something they've needed more of in the organization. While there will certainly be growing pains under Joel Quenneville, Murphy's ceiling is fairly high and gives the Blackhawks some speed coming out of their own zone.

In making both of these deals, the Blackhawks got younger in their attempt to keep up with a league that relies more on speed, addressing a few areas that Nashville exposed during their first-round sweep of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.

And while they may have sacrificed two key players in the short-term, the Blackhawks executed a plan that should keep the perceived championship window open longer than expected.

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

When the Blackhawks found Artemi Panarin, they found a talent who was NHL ready from the start, who found instant chemistry with Patrick Kane and earned a Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. It was also a tremendous panacea for a team that couldn’t pull off a deal to keep Brandon Saad, who was the power forward that fit in beautifully in the Blackhawks’ top six.

On Friday, the Blackhawks brought Saad back and dealt Panarin to do it.   

Saad returns to the Blackhawks, who also acquire goaltender Anton Forsberg, in exchange for Panarin and Tyler Motte. The Blackhawks also get the Blue Jackets’ fifth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft and the Columbus gets Chicago’s sixth-round pick from this weekend’s draft. Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the deal. The Blackhawks inherit Saad’s deal, which has four years remaining at a $6 million cap hit. Panarin was about to enter his current deal, which is two years with a $6 million cap hit. This is key for the immediate future; when Panarin’s latest deal is up, if he keeps up at his current pace, he’ll likely sign for a lot more.

[MORE: Blackhawks deal Hjalmarsson to Arizona]

The Blackhawks have missed Saad terribly since his departure. The team has struggled to find consistent line mates with Jonathan Toews, especially at that left-wing position. They did fairly well with Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik flanking Toews this season but it wasn’t as strong as the Saad-Toews combination. So it looks like the Blackhawks’ top line will be solidified again.

Now, what about the second line? As good as Toews and Saad’s chemistry was, Panarin’s and Kane’s was dynamite. The two had their respective skill, which they flashed often, and their ability to read each other was evident from the start. The Blackhawks’ second line was as consistent and steady the past two seasons as the top line was during Saad’s time here.

So, there are changes. The Blackhawks will absolutely miss what Panarin brings. But as far as bringing back a former Blackhawks player who could help in the present, getting the 24-year-old Saad back will be very beneficial.