Three strikes by Hawks' top line not enough

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Three strikes by Hawks' top line not enough

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Posted 9:16 p.m. Updated 10:32 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TAMPA, Fla. For the second consecutive night, the Chicago Blackhawks were down a few goals and fighting to work their way back to getting points.

On Wednesday, they at least got one.

WATCH: Lightning cheat at shootout?

Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews scored in regulation, but the Blackhawks couldnt get one past Dwayne Roloson in the shootout as they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Martin St. Louis had the shootout winner on a spin-o-rama move that had the Blackhawks debating whether it shouldve been allowed.

The Blackhawks, who were down 3-1 early in the second period, now have 81 points and, at games end, that kept them in fourth place. That could change later on Wednesday; Calgary and Dallas, both with 79 points, were playing against each other.

The Blackhawks also had to go without two players. Brian Campbell was a late scratch with a lower body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said hes day to day. Center Dave Bolland was lost in the first period after taking an elbow from Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina. Quenneville said Bolland will be re-evaluated on Thursday.

Toews, Kane and Marian Hossas shootout attempts were all stopped. Meanwhile, two Lightning tried spin-o-rama moves. Steven Stamkos effort yielded the post but St. Louis hit.

Rule 24.2, which outlines procedure for a penalty shot shootout rules defer to these says this about the spin-o-rama: The spin-o-rama type move where the player completes a 360 turn as he approaches the goal, shall be permitted as this involves continuous motion.

Quenneville believed that you cant lose forward motion or momentum. It looked like there was a complete stop. Goaltender Corey Crawford, who challenged it, later said it was close. It looked like he may have stopped for a second and kept going.

Toews, who also had two assists, said as far as I was concerned I saw the original play and you can still see his left foot moving forward. It looked all right to me.

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 and got stronger as the game wore on. But he admitted he wasnt his best early and the Lightnings potent offense took advantage.

I thought I struggled again in the first half of the game. I was finally able to feel good and start seeing the puck again, Crawford said. It was nice to battle back and get that extra point but I still think we couldve won the game.

The Blackhawks bigger concern was staying in the playoff hunt. Theyll do that, although they wont get that extra point. They were able to overcome this deficit just enough to get something.
The Blackhawks' top line scored all three goals against the Lightning and the combination of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp have a combined 38 points in the last 10 games. (AP)
We worked hard, Quenneville said. We were down by two and they had a lot of things going for them early. We chipped away. It wouldve been nice to get two.

Injuries

Brian Campbell tried to give it a go in pregame, Quenneville said, but was unable to do so. When asked if Campbell re-aggravated that right knee injury from earlier this season he suffered an MCL sprain at the end of training camp, Quenneville said, I dont think its that. But its that part of the lower body. It may not be necessarily what were talking about.

As for Bolland, hell be re-evaluated on Thursday. Michael Frolik moved to center, the first time in several years hes played that position, in Bollands absence. Quenneville was happy with Frolik there.

Sometimes you get to try something you might have in the back of your mind. Its not by choice but by chance, and he did a great job there, Quenneville said. He was great on draws (Frolik won five of eight) and looked good in that role and in that spot.

Pisani returns

Fernando Pisani was back in the lineup on Wednesday for the first time since he suffered a concussion in Dallas on Feb. 11. Pisani played just over 11 minutes with fourth-liners Ryan Johnson and Tomas Kopecky.

Viktor Stalberg was a healthy scratch.

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.”