Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane fade back to silence in Blackhawks’ loss to Hurricanes
After a turn-back-the-clock performance Friday against the Blue Jackets, Kane and Toews made little impact in a 3-0 defeat Tuesday — yet again reminding them of the Hawks’ miserable reality.
RALEIGH, N.C. — In the Blackhawks’ victory Friday against the Blue Jackets, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews played as though it was 2013 again.
They finished with three points each and were named the first and second stars of the game. For a few fleeting hours, it felt like the glory days.
‘‘You never know how long you’ll play the game, let alone play in a city like Chicago in front of our fans, [so] it really never gets old,’’ Toews said that night. ‘‘You can’t ever let yourself take it for granted. It’s pretty special.’’
But if Friday felt like 2013, Tuesday felt very much like 2022.
The Hawks slipped right back into their losing ways against the relentless Hurricanes, who shut them out 3-0 for the second time this season.
Goalie Petr Mrazek’s career-high 46 saves — in his first start in his former home arena — were the lone bright spot for the Hawks. And that stat was made possible only by the Hawks conceding 49 shots on goal, the most they had allowed since May 2021.
Neither Kane nor Toews made any significant impact. They were largely invisible, finishing with a combined three shots on goal. Toews’ most memorable moment was probably berating the referee after an iffy late penalty call.
The speedy third line of Jason Dickinson centering Andreas Athanasiou and Sam Lafferty was the only trio that had anything going. They generated a 6-5 edge in five-on-five scoring chances. The Hurricanes buried the rest of the Hawks 24-7 in such scoring chances, including 18-6 against Kane’s and Toews’ lines.
‘‘The Dickinson line really played well,’’ coach Luke Richardson said. ‘‘They had a real solid three periods and gave us a lot of chances. Athanasiou, at the end of [a second-period] power play, hit the crossbar. Lafferty just missed the post in the first period, too.
‘‘The other guys are trying; they’re trying to create. This [Hurricanes] team just closes quick, and they’re hard on their sticks. So it’s a little frustrating not getting enough offense to give Petr some scoring support that he needs.’’
The victory against the Jackets reminded the Hawks of how beneficial scoring the first goal can be. That advantage, however, went the other way Tuesday — Martin Necas and Jesper Fast scored in the first nine minutes to give the hosts a lead to sit on — and the Hawks came nowhere close to climbing the mountain.
‘‘I don’t know if there’s much we could have done better, other than be a little sharper with our breakouts and with the puck in the first period,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘That was pretty much the game right there. We responded well, which was good. We didn’t just lay over and die. But we definitely have to be better in the first period.’’
This ineptitude is predominantly not Kane’s and Toews’ fault. There’s only so much they can achieve when their linemates are Max Domi, Tyler Johnson, Taylor Raddysh and Phillipp Kurashev — four decent players, but not legitimate top-six weapons on any contending team.
But on the Hawks of 2022, this is simply the reality. The supporting cast has been gutted; a top draft pick is the organizational objective. Tuesday offered a glaring reminder of that, just like most days do.
As the NHL’s trade deadline March 3 slowly approaches, both Hawks legends will be forced to decide whether they can — and want to — stomach that reality through the end of the season. They haven’t tipped their hands yet, and they have every right to decide they can.
Nights such as Tuesday, however, sure make convincing arguments for the alternative.