Blackhawks gain ground but lose momentum in 3-2 OT loss to Canucks
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You can’t settle for a point much more sheepishly than the Blackhawks did Monday.
The Hawks were coming off road victories against the Maple Leafs and Canadiens in which they matched the intensity of the
moment and played at a playoff level to extend their winning streak to five games and bolster their long-shot playoff hopes.
But with all that momentum, the Hawks fell flat against the Canucks, rallying to force overtime before meekly surrendering 16 seconds into the extra period in a 3-2 loss before 21,496 at the United Center.
Erik Gustafsson’s goal with 3:13 left in regulation tied the score 2-2 and gave the Hawks a point they probably didn’t deserve. But that was about the only consolation on this night.
That the Hawks came out spinning their wheels with so much on the line — against a sub-.500 team that had played on the road the previous night — said much more about where this team is than any single standings point. The Hawks are making progress under coach Jeremy Colliton — they’re 16-6-1 in their last 23 games — but they’re learning the hard way what it takes to be the team they once were.
‘‘I don’t think anyone really brought their ‘A’ game today,’’ captain Jonathan Toews said.
‘‘We just didn’t have it,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘Some nights, you just don’t have it. The challenge is to get over that, get yourself going somehow, [have] some line step forward and get us some momentum. Wasn’t what we wanted, but we got a point, and now we’ve just got to be better.’’
Toews scored a power-play goal, Patrick Kane notched his 100th and 101st points with assists and Corey Crawford kept the Hawks in the game with several difficult saves. The result moved the Hawks (74 points) four points behind the Coyotes for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, with a game in hand.
But the Hawks know they missed a chance to get within three points of the Coyotes, who lost to the Lightning 4-1 in Tampa, Florida. The Hawks also trail the Wild by three points and are tied with the Avalanche with 10 games to go.
‘‘We didn’t come out hard enough,’’ said Gustafsson, who scored his 14th goal of the season on a slap shot from inside the blue line. ‘‘We know they’re playing back-to-back, and we talked about it before [the game]. We need to come out much harder. Just a bad 60 minutes. At least we got one point, but we need two now. It’s not fun.’’
As Toews pointed out, the Hawks lost this one early against a team playing the second of back-to-back road games.
‘‘We had a chance to jump on ’em, try to wear ’em down early and take control of the game, and we just let them hang around,’’ he said. ‘‘We didn’t have that speed and pace we needed early on. It’s nice to get that point, but tough finish.’’
Toews’ power-play goal ended an 0-for-19 drought with the man advantage and gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead with 35 seconds left in the first period. But Alexander Elder scored four seconds into a power play in the first minute of the second to tie the score, and Markus Granlund scored off a rebound to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead.
Even after their uneven effort, the Hawks seemed to have momentum after Gustafsson’s tying goal, which came just after a failed power play. But Bo Horvat scored off a nice give-and-go with Elder around Gustafsson 16 seconds into overtime to give the Canucks the victory.
‘‘One [point] is better than nothing,’’ Gustafsson said. ‘‘But at the same time — I’m saying it again — [we need] two points. We’ve got to come back harder.’’