The lack of depth scoring, the lackluster efforts in home games, the sluggish starts of late — all those quibbling concerns that have troubled the Blackhawks recently looked awfully minor late in the second period Saturday night when Marian Hossa lay crumpled on the ice in the corner, writhing in pain.
A Hampus Lindholm hip check sent Hossa tumbling into the boards, where his left leg appeared to get jammed. Hossa was slow to get up, and was putting little, if any, weight on the leg as he was helped off the ice and back to the dressing room. He did not return.
“We’ll probably know more [Sunday],” Joel Quenneville said after the Hawks lost 3-2 in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks, their third loss in as many home games. “We don’t think it’s serious, but he could miss some time.”
When asked if Hossa could be out weeks, Quenneville said, “Could be stretching it on weeks. Not that long.”
For the record, the NHL trade deadline is on Feb. 29, 15 days away. Last season, Patrick Kane’s broken collarbone suffered shortly before the trade deadline allowed the Hawks to put him on long-term injured reserve, freeing up enough cap space to acquire Antoine Vermette, because the cap is turned off in the playoffs. Since it sounds as if Hossa won’t come anywhere close to missing the rest of the regular season as Kane did, it’s unlikely the scenario plays out again.
Hossa, an irreplaceable two-way threat even in a down offensive year, is four goals shy of No. 500 for his career. He’s a fixture on the Hawks’ top line, power play and penalty kill, and has been one of the top defensive forwards in the league for years.
Quenneville called the Lindholm check “on the borderline.”
“Not much you can say about those hip checks,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think they’re always risky. A guy takes a hit low like that, if your skate gets caught in a rut or can’t quite give out the way you want it to, something’s got to give there. More often than not, it doesn’t end well.”
The Hawks lost on Ryan Getzlaf’s power-play goal at 2:16 of the extra session. All three meetings between the 2015 Western Conference finalists went to overtime. This was the Hawks’ third straight loss at home, though the point kept them in a first-place tie with Dallas (which has three games in hand).
“We’ll take a point tonight,” Quenneville said. “I don’t think we deserved a point, but we’ll take it.”
For a while, the game looked an awful lot like the last time these teams met, when the Hawks won 1-0 in overtime. It took more than 35 minutes for somebody to finally score, as Brent Seabrook followed his own shot for a power-play goal shortly after the Hossa injury. The play that drew the penalty — Richard Panik, in for Hossa, crashing the net hard and drawing a hooking penalty — eventually led to Ducks goalie John Gibson leaving the game after the period with an upper-body injury.
The Ducks tied it early in the third period during 4-on-4 play, as Corey Crawford made two brilliant saves but couldn’t make a third, with Jakob Silfverberg jamming the puck in from the goalmouth. Less than four minutes later, Getzlaf made a quick pass out of the corner to David Perron, who fired it past Crawford for a 2-1 Anaheim lead.
But Seabrook scored again to tie it up at 12:01, as Andrew Desjardins — in for Hossa on the top line — muscled a puck to the point, where Seabrook banged it home to make it 2-2.
After the game, the Hawks were lamenting yet another slow start, yet another poor offensive showing (they have four goals in their last three games, three of them by defensemen), and yet another squandered home game. But the real attention was on Hossa, who leaves a gaping hole in an already shallow top six.
“We’re going to have to find ways to play without one of our top guys again,” Toews said. “We all know what he means to our team offensively and defensively all over the rink. It’s never easy but we’ll find a way.