Third period nightmares continue for Blackhawks

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Third period nightmares continue for Blackhawks

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
Posted 10:07 PM Updated 11:30 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks were in decent shape against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. They were shaping up better defensively, as Mondays see-saw scoring battle was replaced by a tight 1-1 game through two periods.

Then Jordan Hendry was whistled for a four-minute high-sticking on Colorado center Daniel Winnik early in the third. And while the call and a sticks role in it seemed questionable, the Avalanche made the Blackhawks pay nonetheless.

Tomas Fleischmann tallied a third-period hat trick, with two of his goals coming on that double minor, as the Avalanche beat the Blackhawks 4-3 at the United Center on Wednesday night. It was another frustrating loss for the Blackhawks, who have now dropped three in a row.

And the way it happened was even more frustrating.

Hendry was going for a puck along the boards when Winnik skated in and soon went down. On first glance it looked like Winnik hit Hendrys arm, but he was called for a double-minor high-sticking. Apparently, Winnik ran into Hendrys glove, not the stick.

I didnt see the play live but I just looked at the replay and I totally disagreed with the call. But we still have to get through that, said coach Joel Quenneville. Hit (Hendrys) glove. From the outside I dont even know how you can see something like that. You watch the replay and (the official) doesnt even see the guy. I dont know how he couldve made that call. Youve got to be right when you make that call.

Hendry said he wasnt sure what happened.

It was just kind of a battle in the corner there, I dont know, he said. Its a tough call. I think because of the rules with blood they have to call it four (minutes).

The Blackhawks may also be missing another forward. Viktor Stalberg was hit from behind by Colorados Ryan OByrne midway through the second. Stalberg went face-first into the boards, skated off a few moments later but went to the locker room for the rest of the game. Quenneville said theyll have to see how Stalbergs doing on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks were still in this one through the first two periods. Tied 1-1 heading into that double minor, Fleischmann scored near the end of each penalty to give the Avs a 3-1 advantage. He added his third with about five minutes remaining.

Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews and Troy Brouwer scored for the Blackhawks, who were frustrated again after this one.

We were doing everything right, we were right there. But our PK wasnt very good in the third, Brent Seabrook said. We want to continue to get better every day. We have to be prepared to play full 60 minutes.

Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 23 in the loss.

Thats the game right there, Crawford said of the power-play goals. I think we were in control. I dont know what to say about it. Its just tough.
Kane, others close

Patrick Kane said he felt good after skating with his teammates on Wednesday morning. The right wing, who appeared to suffer a left ankle injury on Dec. 5 against Calgary, said hell test it again on Friday morning and, if all goes fine, could play that night against the Detroit Red Wings.
Fernando Pisani skated on Wednesday morning but did not play against the Colorado Avalanche. He is still listed as day to day.

Marian Hossa did not skate on Wednesday but Quenneville said he has been skating the past few days. His return date is still unknown.

Soldier honored

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, who recently received the Medal of Honor, the nations highest military decoration, was honored prior to the Blackhawks-Avalanche game on Wednesday night. Giunta, who had two deployments in Afghanistan, received the honor after engaging two enemy fighters and rescuing a wounded comrade. The 25-year-old Giunta is the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam.

Giunta, an Iowa native, was enjoying his time in Chicago and loved the atmosphere at the Blackhawks game.

To be able to stand on the ice and hear the national anthem and that reaction, its pretty incredible, he said. To feel that kind of support and response, thats what we need as servicemen. It makes you feel good inside.

Rooms available

Guest rooms for the fourth annual Blackhawks Convention are now on sale at the Hilton Chicago. The 2011 convention is scheduled for July 11-15. Room packages are available for one or both nights of the convention. A one-night stay includes two free convention passes, the weekend package includes two free convention passes and a guaranteed autograph during the event. To make a reservation, call the Hilton Chicago at 1-877-865-5320.

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

Blackhawks' rough weekend 'a little bit of a wake-up call'

Blackhawks' rough weekend 'a little bit of a wake-up call'

Patrick Kane was summing up the Blackhawks' weekend, one that didn't go well in terms of points.

"Good way to kind of judge ourselves, where we're at," he said Sunday night. "Might be a little bit of a wake-up call to see how good we really are."

Well, in a way, it is. You can't really compare Friday's loss to Washington and Sunday's loss to Minnesota on performance; the Blackhawks didn't show up for the first game and were much better in the second. Nevertheless, it was the same result in each. The Blackhawks' lengthy hold on first place in the Western Conference ended, with the Wild taking over following Sunday's 3-2 victory.

It's not a sound-the-alarm situation, but the Blackhawks are certainly cognizant of the missed opportunity last weekend and that they came up short against the league's best.

Artem Anisimov agreed with Kane's assessment.

"We just need to play better. All four lines need to play better in all areas of the ice. Just be better in the little things," Anisimov said. "Back check, put stick in the right position, box the guy out, short shifts. All little things need to be better."

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Many of the little things that were absent against the Capitals were back against the Wild. But coach Joel Quenneville wasn't happy with mistakes made on goals allowed, especially the first two. And while Kane and the second line were a consistent scoring threat against the Wild, the other three lines weren't. It's a problem that's plagued the Blackhawks a good deal this season, even when they were stringing together victories.

There is no reason to think that, because of this weekend's results, the Blackhawks are going to falter against strong teams. They've done well against others already this season. They beat Montreal earlier this season, when the Canadiens were healthy and steamrolling everyone. They beat the New York Rangers when the Rangers and former Blackhawks backup goaltender Antti Raanta were on their respective hot streaks.

Still, Kane's analysis is correct: This should get the Blackhawks' attention. The Wild have beaten the Blackhawks in eight consecutive regular-season games now and will face them three more times this season. They have two more meetings with the Edmonton Oilers, who beat them soundly in November.

The Blackhawks' long reign atop the Western Conference standings is over. They’re currently second in the Central Division, with an eight-point cushion over the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks have done fairly well this season. But this weekend was a reminder that they can be better.

"The game (on Friday) was kind of like a shock to the system thinking maybe you're one of the top teams in the league, or being able to compete with one of the top teams, and we obviously got thoroughly outplayed. We came back (Sunday night). It was pretty even in chances. We might've even had more so, just kind of didn't pull it out," Kane said. "But (when) you've played two of the better teams in the league and lose, there's got to be room for improvement, right?"

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

The Minnesota Wild have been chasing the Blackhawks for a long time.

They may not be so far away now.

After falling behind 2-0, the Wild scored three unanswered goals to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 at the United Center on Sunday night, and moved into sole possession of first place in the Central Division and Western Conference with 61 points, and still have four games in hand.

But even the Wild had to remind themselves that they're on the same playing surface as the Blackhawks, who eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs for three consecutive seasons from 2013-15, two of which were en route to Stanley Cup wins.

"We were pretty slow," coach Bruce Boudreau said about the team's first period. "I thought we were in a little bit of quick sand. We watched them play. I think it was a little bit more [we were] in awe. It's the Chicago Blackhawks, we're supposed to be in awe."

When they snapped out of it, the Wild looked like the team that has become one of the NHL's best, having now won 17 of their last 19 games.

Wild nemesis Patrick Kane scored the game's first two goals, but Minnesota displayed the type of resiliency every contender needs by evening it up in the second period thanks to a power-play goal by Nino Neiderreiter — his third goal in as many games — and Chris Stewart, who found the back of the net for the second consecutive contest.

Jason Pominville, who hadn't scored in 19 straight games, registered the game-winner early in the third period to cap off a Wild victory. It's Minnesota's eighth straight win against Chicago, a feat that even its coach can't explain.

"To beat this team eight times in a row is really something," Boudreau said. "I don't understand how you could do it. I wish I would have had that knowledge a couple years ago. But it's a new year and it's just one in a row right now."

That's one of many reasons why the Wild have been so successful this season. They're taking it one game at a time, and no matter what the score is, they continue to play the same way and have the belief they can win any game.

Less than 24 hours before their win over the Blackhawks, the Wild jumped out to a 4-0 lead in Dallas and squandered it in the third period. They found a way to bounce back, however, to take home a 5-4 victory in regulation.

So, how do they keep doing it?

"I don't know," Boudreau responded. "We're supposed to. If you want to win, you've got to come back, right? You got to believe. I think the biggest thing is believing you can, and that's the first step. If you don't believe you can come back, you never come back. If you always believe there's a chance, there's a good chance you can do it."

Said Stewart: "I just think we're a confident bunch. We believe in ourselves. We know we didn't get the start that we wanted, but we got one to crawl back in it and all this team needs is a little bit of life."

There's no better measuring stick than to beat a team in your division that's won three championships since 2010, and has been powerhouses in the West for nearly a decade.

And it's something the Wild hope — and believe — they're in the process of achieving.

"It's always a big rival," Neiderreiter said. "You always want to beat the Hawks. They won a few Stanley Cup in the past few years, and that's something we want to accomplish someday. To do that, we have to make sure we beat top teams like that."