For the first time all season, the Chicago Blackhawks have consecutive losses in regulation.
This uncharacteristic streak began Tuesday night as the Hawks returned to the United Center from their season-long seven game road trip, riding a six game winning streak. The Hawks would face a Dallas Stars team that was seeking revenge from an 11 round shootout loss only days earlier.
That they did.
The Stars came out strong against the Hawks as they raced to a 3-0 lead by the middle of the 2nd period. But as we have seen in most games this season, the Blackhawks responded with a goal to cut the lead to 3-1 with a power play goal from forward Patrick Sharp, who ripped a slapshot past Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen.
The Blackhawks weren’t done yet, as they scored twice more with goals from defenseman Nick Leddy and forward Marcus Kruger knotted it up at three goals apiece.
But a costly hooking call by Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson left Stars’ forward Antoine Roussel with a penalty shot. Roussel capitalized and scored on Hawks’ goalie Corey Crawford to put the Stars ahead for good.
The Hawks picked up action again on Thursday night as they headed back on the road to face the Minnesota Wild, the team the Hawks beat in the first round of the playoffs last season.
The Hawks came out sluggish again for the first two periods and looked at another deficit as the Hawks were down 2-0 entering the final minute of the second period. But the Hawks, as usual put up another strong fight.
At the 19:43 mark of the second period, recently called up forward Jeremy Morin rebounded a Joakim Nordstrom shot to cut the Wild lead to 2-1, heading into the locker room. The Hawks then came out strong in the third period by scoring twice in the first six and a half minutes to go up 3-2.
But, for the second straight game, the Blackhawks looked sluggish to end the game as they let the other team come back and steal a victory. The Hawks could do very little as the Wild stormed back to score two unanswered goals to win 4-3.
Whether it is Corey Crawford playing better, everyone on the Hawks getting some rest or the Hawks needing to start games better, this team needs to respond after two straight losses. How the Blackhawks respond to these losses could possibly determine how teams looks at them moving forward.
The Hawks need to refocus, get some rest, and come out firing from the beginning next game. The Blackhawks cannot afford to come out sluggish next game, especially against a top team like Anaheim.
The Blackhawks come back home for a game against the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. (Central) and can be seen on NHL Network-USA and CSN-Chicago.
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