'Sloppy' Blackhawks get win streak snapped in Calgary

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'Sloppy' Blackhawks get win streak snapped in Calgary

CALGARY, Alberta When youre missing a top player, everyone else needs to pick up the slack and play as mistake-free as possible.

The Blackhawks didnt, and the Calgary Flames made them pay.

Viktor Stalberg and Marian Hossa scored, but defensive lapses were costly in the Blackhawks 5-2 loss to the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Blackhawks, who were without defenseman Brent Seabrook for the second consecutive game.

And while no one wanted to blame the loss on his absence, the Blackhawks looked like they were really missing him. The defense had several lapses the team had a total 15 giveaways in the game -- and those lapses too often turned into Calgary goals.

I dont know, maybe we thought we were better than we were or looking for an easy game, coach Joel Quenneville said. The start of the second was not good and all five goals were very generous on our part. All our goals were defendable and couldve been handled better. All five of them.

The messy loss also came on the heels of one of their cleanest games, the victory over Vancouver on Wednesday night. Captain Jonathan Toews said the Blackhawks shouldve known Calgary, which had lost three of its last four coming into this game, would come out swinging.

When youre flying around and everythings falling for you, youre going to run into a team thats pissed off and eager to get better like Calgary and things wont be easy for you, he said. We kind of made it easy for them, by the turnovers and little mistakes we made. Sometimes when youre not playing as well as you can, you just have to limit those things and try to hang in there and we didnt do that.

Duncan Keith had a particularly tough night, finishing a minus-4. But it was a night in which no one in a Blackhawks uniform had a memorable night.

We were sloppy and right from the first goal there Id like to have that one back, Keith said. It just seemed like we made some bad mistakes and they capitalized on them.

The breaking point may have come early in the second period, when the Calgary Flames turned two Blackhawks miscues into two goals just 17 seconds apart from each other. Rene Bourque scored the first, with Paul Byron capitalizing on a Nick Leddy turnover on the second.

We couldve prevented (those two goals); I couldve done something different on the second goal, Leddy said. In the second and third we shouldve just gotten back to the little things, supporting the play and getting the puck in deep.

The Blackhawks were reminded on Friday that an opportunistic team will take advantage of mistakes. The Blackhawks have been good at giving up little.

We always measure what we give up and I thought what we gave up tonight was our own doing, Quenneville said. The five goals were all preventable.

Briefly

Michael Frolik (shoulder) was out of this game. His status for Saturday nights game in Edmonton is unknown.

Ray Emery could start Saturday against the Oilers.

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the latest slump and how much does Artem Anisimov's injury play a role in their struggles?

Konroyd tells us he was surprised by Ryan Hartman's benching in Tampa.

The guys play the game, playoff minutes or press box minutes?  They run through the players who are on the bubble when it comes to postseason play.

They also discuss the Hawks chances of overtaking Washington for the President's trophy.

Plus, Konroyd breaks down possible first round opponents: St Louis, Calgary and Nashville.

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.