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.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, and have eliminated the Minnesota Wild from the playoffs three times from 2013-15.

But it's the Wild that NHL coaches believe will win the Western Conference this season as we approach the trade deadline.

In his annual midseason poll, TSN's Bob McKenzie surveyed 25 of 30 coaches to vote on multiple categories, such as the league's best player and the team most likely to win it all.

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According to the survey, 11 coaches predicted the Wild will win the West while the Blackhawks and Sharks tied for second with four votes.

As for winning the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals are the favorite, earning 10 votes, followed closely by the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins with eight. The Wild and Blackhawks rounded out the poll with three and two votes, respectively.

Joel Quenneville earned one vote as the NHL's best coach, which is three fewer votes than he had last year, despite this year being arguably his most challenging — and best — coaching job since arriving in Chicago, given the youth on the roster.