Missed opportunity sends Hawks to shootout loss

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Missed opportunity sends Hawks to shootout loss

Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
Posted: 9:46 PM Updated 10:50 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

NASHVILLE For nearly 50 minutes, the Chicago Blackhawks were outworking, outhustling and dominating the Nashville Predators, with a 2-0 lead to show for it.

But when the Predators pushed back in the final 10 minutes of regulation, a big two points for the Blackhawks turned into just one.

Tomas Kopecky and Viktor Stalberg scored, but the Predators came back with two in the third and Marcel Goc had the shootout winner in a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night.

Corey Crawfords shutout streak ended at 176 minutes, nine seconds. It was the longest such run since Tony Esposito went 192:29 from Jan. 16-30, 1972.

I could care less (about that), as long as we get two points, Crawford said. At least we came away with one, but I think we couldve had two there.

The Blackhawks looked set to collect two points and jump ahead of the Predators with what was a strong display of hockey through most of the game. They were controlling the action, seemingly winning every puck battle and spending tons of time in the Predators zone. But the Predators fired back in the third, outshooting the Blackhawks 13-7 in the frame and wrestling momentum away.

It was another game in which the Blackhawks struggled to hold on in the third period.

Its frustrating, captain Jonathan Toews said. I think a lot of guys played well, collectively we played well. We got big stops from Crow and big penalty kills. It just comes down to a couple little mistakes and its frustrating when those things dont go right for you.

READ: Hjalmarsson's dirty work

Crawford had recorded two consecutive shutouts entering this one. But Jerred Smithson ended his bid for a third 9:46 into the third period. The Predators fed off that momentum, and less than three minutes later Shea Webers shot from the blue line tied it 2-2.

We had them right where we wanted them, coach Joel Quenneville said. They got a little life on that (Smithson) goal, the building got loud, face off, bang-bang play and they got the (Weber) shot. We shouldve nailed it.

That was a good opportunity for us, Quenneville said. You know they were going to have their turn at some point in the game and they did.

WATCH: Coach Q upset after game

The Blackhawks couldnt get a shootout attempt past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, who stopped 31 of 33 in the victory. Rinne also came up big with 1:26 remaining in overtime, when he stopped Patrick Sharps breakaway shot.

There was already an onus on Sunday nights rematch against the Predators. After the way Saturdays game ended, its that much greater now.

Obviously its a huge game, a big weekend for us, Quenneville said. The standings are still probably jumbled up. Itll be the same going into tomorrows game: a tight team playing a tight game. And you have to be ready to win that type of game where its a low scoring affair and a hard-working type of game gets rewarded.

Briefly

Jake Dowell went off briefly in the first period after blocking a puck off his right leg. He finished the game.

John Scott, Nick Boynton and Ryan Johnson were once again scratches on Saturday night.

Quenneville said prior to Saturdays game that Marty Turco could possibly start Sunday.

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

Dennis Rasmussen looks to build off experience

Dennis Rasmussen looks to build off experience

The Blackhawks’ offseason moves have once again left holes, especially among the forward lines. Considering the experience Dennis Rasmussen gained last season, he could certainly grab the third- or fourth-line center spot.

But Rasmussen isn’t going to pencil in anything yet.

“I don’t really think that way. I always think I have to play as good as possible to earn a spot, and that’s what I think this year, too,” said Rasmussen on Day 3 of Blackhawks training camp. “But it’s really up to me. I have to play well to earn my spot here. That’s what I’m trying to focus on.”

After trading Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell this offseason, the Blackhawks will be looking for several players to step up and fill voids. Center is one of those spots, and Rasmussen played 44 games there with the Blackhawks last season. Rasmussen spent the long offseason prepping for this campaign, focusing on one thing in particular.

“I always try to work on getting faster, that’s the part of my game I can really improve,” he said. “I can improve everything. But especially getting quicker, that’s what I’m trying to focus.”

Anything else Rasmussen has to do to take that next step?

“I think he’s got to be a little more proactive than reactive out on the ice,” Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “Kind of be a little bolder in different areas whether it’s in the offensive zone if you’re down between the hash marks, hey, try and take a guy on 1-on-1. But if you’re a neutral zone, you got to be a little more responsible. If you got to pick up the wide winger and come back and play good defensive hockey, that’s what you’ve got to do.”

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Rasmussen showed that when he made his NHL debut last season. The Blackhawks recalled him in early December, when they were looking to bolster their bottom six; any offense added was a bonus. He scored three of his four goals in his first seven games – his first came in his NHL debut vs. Nashville.

“He can make more things happen out there,” Kitchen said. “I think he understands that too because he wants to do whatever it takes to make the team.”

Rasmussen wants to be part of this group. He gained some great experience last year, and he hopes it serves him well in trying to get that roster spot this season.

“It was great for me. I got to play a lot, think I played in some important situations sometimes and I was really happy with last year. It gave me a lot of confidence, a lot of experience too,” Rasmussen said. “So hopefully I can bring that into this year.”

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

After earning a couple of invites from the Blackhawks this offseason, Alexandre Fortin earned a contract on Sunday.

Fortin agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Blackhawks, who had invited him to prospect and training camp. The 19-year-old, who was passed over in two NHL drafts, was hoping to latch onto the Blackhawks’ organization.

“You know, it’s a nice day for me. I’ve been working on that since I was young, so now it’s just Step 1 and I’m very excited for the future,” Fortin said following Sunday’s training camp sessions. “I have to thank the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s the first team that really believed in me. It’s awesome.”

Indeed, Fortin was just looking for a chance and he could get it here eventually.

“I think it’s a real plus,” Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “I think he earned a contract. Right from the start, he stepped up and played. He’s been very consistent in every scrimmage. He’s been a threat to score out on the ice. I think he’s done a terrific job. He’s got to be very, very happy about the whole situation. It’s great for the organization: get a free agent who comes in and earns a three-year entry-level contract.”

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The most likely scenario is he’ll head back to his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, after logging some training camp time with the Blackhawks. He could get into a preseason game, too. But the future definitely looks bright for Fortin.

“It’s, for sure, just Step 1. My real goal is to play pro,” Fortin said. “So I’ll keep learning, keep doing what coaches want, I’ll watch (the players) who I have to be like and keep working on that every day until my real dream comes true.”

Keith doing fine

Duncan Keith participated in one of the Blackhawks’ two practices again on Sunday, and Kitchen said Keith did just fine.

“The first day, Duncs, he got through the practice no problem. He didn’t have any issues. Talked to him the next day, the festival game day, and he said he was fine. Today was a little tougher day for defensemen, so we were asking a lot of them. There was a lot of 1-on-1, 2-on-1s, 2-on-2s. Duncs said after practice the forwards had it off and the D had the work day today. But he responded well afterwards,” Kitchen said. “He even asked if he could come out for the other practice, but we said no.”