'Outworked' Hawks shut out in third straight loss

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'Outworked' Hawks shut out in third straight loss

Updated: Friday, Jan. 6 at 10:52 p.m.

Coach Joel Quenneville felt the Blackhawks shouldve gotten at least a point out of their game in Philadephia on Thursday night. He didnt see them deserving even that on Friday.

David Jones tip-in proved to be the game-winner, as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the Blackhawks 4-0 at the United Center. It was the Blackhawks third consecutive loss and fourth in their last five games. It was also the fifth time this season theyve been shut out.

The Blackhawks were facing a rested and confident Avalanche, who have now won nine of their last 10. It showed from the blue line to the net, where Semyon Varlamov stopped all 27 shots for his second shutout this season.

Last night we couldveshouldve got a point. Tonight we didnt deserve anything, Quenneville said. We got what we deserved.

The Blackhawks didnt have much jump from the outset. Perhaps it was an after effect of their physical game in Philadelphia on Thursday. But they werent using that as an excuse.

It seemed like we were a step behind the whole game. I dont know why, Duncan Keith said. Especially in games like this, back to back, we need to rely on our team game. For whatever reason tonight, it wasnt very good.

The Blackhawks struggled defensively on one end -- Nick Leddy had a particularly rough night -- as the Avalanche pounced on miscues and open chances. They were shut down offensively on the other end, too. The Blackhawks had their chances, but they also had plenty of one-and-done opportunities.

We didnt generate enough, Quenneville said. We had some quality chances. It wouldve been nice to get one and see what wouldve happened.

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said it was not a good game at all. We just got outworked basically. We have to do better and try to get more bodies at the net, get the puck deep and go to work. Weve been struggling with that the last couple of games and thats why were not winning.

The Blackhawks were winning in December with that team game Keith talked about on Friday night. As the calendar has turned, so has their game. On Sunday theyll face the Detroit Red Wings, against whom they had one of those stellar across-the-board performances last time. Theyll need that again, and they need to keep it going like they did in December.

The last three games we havent been consistent at all, Hjalmarsson said. A couple guys (have) a good game and in another game a couple other guys are good. We just have to be on top, the whole team, when the game starts.

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.

Corey Crawford bounces back with 42 saves in Blackhawks’ shootout win over Stars

Corey Crawford bounces back with 42 saves in Blackhawks’ shootout win over Stars

Coach Joel Quenneville had a short list of things he liked out of the Blackhawks' shootout victory over the Dallas Stars: the score, the shootout and Corey Crawford.

Especially Corey Crawford.

Crawford stopped 42 of 44 shots in regulation and overtime and Artemi Panarin had the shootout winner as the Blackhawks edged the Stars 3-2 on Thursday night. The Blackhawks are now eight points up on the Minnesota Wild, who lost 3-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

The Blackhawks will take the victories but the way they're playing lately has been not at the standard they'd like. Crawford, who had a forgettable outing against Vancouver on Tuesday – he was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots – was outstanding in this one on a night the Blackhawks needed him to be.

Crawford did not talk to reporters after the game, a rarity following a victory. Asked if Crawford was alright, Quenneville said, "I think he's fine."

Patrick Kane scored his 33rd goal of the season and had a shootout goal to offset Tyler Seguin's. As for the lines, once again revamped some in Artem Anisimov's absence, Quenneville wasn't too happy with those, either.

Marian Hossa, who scored his 24th of the season to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 edge eight minutes into the third period, said the team lacked a complete game again.

"We played three teams most likely not going to the playoffs. But if we want to get ourselves ready for the playoffs we have to play a full 60 because it's not going to be enough just to play 20, 40 or 50 minutes," he said.

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The Stars, who are nearing the end of a very disappointing season, fired chance after chance at Crawford. Those opportunities got better as the game wore on. Only Ales Hemsky solved him, scoring both of the Stars’ goals. But the damage was limited as Crawford stopped many odd-man rushes and breakaways.

"He played amazing tonight. The reason we won the game. He's done that a lot this year," Kane said. "For a goalie, it's tough to show up every night. Even the goals he gave up the last game, you can't put all the blame on him. He was outstanding tonight."

Points-wise, the Blackhawks are in a great situation. They're pulling away from the Wild, who have struggled most of March. They're within reach of the Presidents' Trophy. The Blackhawks are fine with both of those but their overall game is their main concern, which lately has been lacking.

"Over the last six or seven games we've leveled off from the 10-15 before that. We have another level to give and get back to," Kane said. "We're still finding ways to get points. It's a tough schedule, we're playing a lot of games. You're not going to have your best every night. Even if you're not at your best or [have] the most energy, nice to come out of it with points."