RALEIGH, N.C. — Jonathan Toews is glad to see that the Blackhawks have been able to elevate their play late in games, allowing them to chase down leads and come away with victories. He just wishes they didn’t have to do it so often.
“It’s something we’ve got to keep trying to hammer home,” Toews said. “We’ve got to start trying to take over games right away.”
The Hawks couldn’t rally two nights in a row, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Friday night, 24 hours after they rallied to beat the Nashville Predators. That momentum didn’t appear to make the late-night trip to Raleigh, and the Hawks will limp into Monday’s Winter Classic in St. Louis having lost four of their last five games.
Making matters worse, they could be without two of their top defensive forwards. Marian Hossa has missed four straight games and his status for Monday is up in the air. And Marcus Kruger left Friday’s game with an upper-body injury in the second period and is “week to week,” according to Joel Quenneville.
The Hawks actually jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Michal Kempny’s first NHL goal, a blistering slap shot at 6:36 of the first period. But it was actually another slow start in a season full of them. The Hawks trailed 2-1 after the first period on rebound goals by Elias Lindholm and Lee Stempniak (off a Teuvo Teravainen shot) 65 seconds apart shortly after the Kempny goal. The Hurricanes were flying, and led 14-5 in shots midway through the first period.
Cam Ward did the rest for the Hurricanes, making big save after big save in the second and third periods, including point-blank stops on Andrew Desjardins, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Richard Panik, Duncan Keith, and Vinnie Hinostroza. After a Patrick Kane turnover set up Jay McClement’s goal early in the third, Toews (two assists) banked in a shot off Hinostroza to give the Hawks life. But Ward shut the door from there
“Sometimes you’re going to have nights like that, when the goalie’s making some big saves,” Hinostroza said. “We had a lot of chances. On another night, who knows, those could go in.”