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.

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”