New-look Blackhawks deliver same old result in 3-2 overtime loss to Hurricanes
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RALEIGH, N.C. — Look, Jeremy Colliton wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel in his third game as an NHL coach.
But he sure made enough changes to indicate he won’t hesitate to tinker with a Blackhawks machine that isn’t exactly a model of efficiency after a 3-2 loss in overtime that ran the team’s winless streak to eight games.
One thing was clear as the Hawks prepared to meet the Hurricanes for the second time in the last three games: Colliton was looking to the veterans, the guys who’ve been through it all and won Stanley Cup titles together, to save the team from backsliding into the abyss.
So there Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were on the top line together, along with Nick Schmaltz. Toews and Kane had been separated all season, leading their respective lines with some success. But the production wasn’t adding up to points in the standings, so, you know, why not?
“We’re looking for something to hold on to, and those are two of the best players in the league,” Colliton said. “So we’ll get something going there, and we can build the lineup out from that.”
And there Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were, together again as a No. 1 defensive pairing. The old standards who have logged more games with the Hawks than any other defenseman presumably will handle their business. But what happens with the vastly less experienced pairings behind them? Colliton is banking on young players feeding off each other as they learn on the go.
The lineup shuffling looked like a success when the Hawks led 2-0.
The opening goal came when Henri Jokiharju — off a long, clever pass from Kane — blasted a shot that deflected off the stick of Toews, who was camped in front of the net, and got past former Hawks goalie Scott Darling.
The second goal — coming from a rejiggered third line — was even more impressive. David Kampf relentlessly pursued a puck up the left side of the ice and fought it over to Dominik Kahun, who played it softly between his legs to a trailing Alex DeBrincat, who finished for his first goal in eight games.
Colliton sees Kampf and Kahun as high-motor players whose effort could be “contagious.” Also contagious, though: the self-destructive errors the Hawks seem to be making in every game.
This time, it was second-period penalties that led to power-play goals by former Hawk Teuvo Teravainen and Micheal Ferland barely a minute apart. From there, the game stayed tied until overtime, when Sebastian Aho scored on Cam Ward after a turnover by Kampf.
“We gave up two quick goals — not fun,” Toews said. “It’s just the way things are going right now that we didn’t find a way to get up a few goals.”
Talk about tinkering: Should Colliton really have had Seabrook and Kampf on the ice together in overtime?
Some would say that’s an easy no. Colliton begged to differ.
Regardless, the slide is at 0-6-2. The Hawks have a total of one point to show for their last two road trips and are burying themselves in the stacked Central Division. Joel Quenneville has his feet up somewhere. General manager Stan Bowman isn’t asking for any do-overs yet.
“We’ve just got to stay with it,” Toews said. “It’s not fun sometimes. You feel like you’re working hard and doing a lot of things right, and the results aren’t coming. But we’ve got no other choice — we’re going to keep getting better as a team. Eventually, those results are going to start coming for us.”