Blackhawks hit rock bottom in loss to dead-last Coyotes, their sixth in a row
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — So was it rock bottom when the Coyotes’ Alex Goligoski scored a short-handed goal on a harmless shot from below the half-wall, chasing Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg from the game after allowing three goals on 13 shots?
Was it rock bottom two minutes later, when goalie Jeff Glass and defenseman Brent Seabrook thought Glass had the puck, only to watch helplessly as the Coyotes’ Tobias Rieder found it in the crease and easily smacked it in?
Or was it rock bottom when the Hawks were booed off the ice by their own fans after the second period in an arena they’ve made their own for years?
The Hawks hit a new low in a 6-1 loss Monday to the dead-last Coyotes. It was their sixth loss in a row, their longest regular-season skid since a nine-game debacle during the 2011-12 season. (They lost their last eight last season, including the playoffs.) They fell to .500 in terms of points percentage (24-24-8) this late in the season for the first time since 2008, during the rookie seasons of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
A 10th consecutive postseason appearance isn’t even a pipe dream at this point; it’s a near-impossibility.
‘‘It’s been a tough little while here,’’ Kane said. ‘‘We’re just trying to find something to build off of, and we just can’t do it right now. So it’s been frustrating.”
To their credit, the Hawks haven’t appeared to quit on the season. There’s still effort. There are still occasional flashes of fire. They just aren’t very good.
‘‘Sometimes it looks like it’s almost-getting-there or an almost-block or an almost-clear or an almost-completed-rebound,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘Those almosts can turn into getting the job done. That’s the difference, finding a way to get it done.’’
All the Hawks’ problems were evident in this one. There was shoddy defense on Max Domi’s goal, allowing him to sit uncontested in the slot to deflect a shot after the Hawks lost a faceoff. There was poor puck management on Clayton Keller’s goal, as defenseman Jordan Oesterle turned the puck over behind his own net, leading directly to a rebound goal. There was unreliable goaltending on the awful goal by Goligoski and the embarrassing goal by Rieder.
Nick Cousins and Christian Dvorak added goals in the third period for the Coyotes, who got 37 saves from former Hawks goalie Antti Raanta. Hawks rookie Alex DeBrincat had 17 shot attempts and a power-play goal, his 20th tally of the season. It was the lone bright spot in another dark night, in an increasingly dark season.
It has reached the point where Quenneville isn’t even thinking about the standings, which show the Hawks 10 points out of the playoff picture. The focus has become much simpler, much more desperate.
‘‘Winning the next game,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘Winning a shift.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.