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Ducks deflate Blackhawks, United Center crowd with 3-2 win in shootout

Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth covers up loose puck as Hawks center Dave Bollcloses for rebound try first period Chicago Blackhawks

Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth covers up a loose puck as Hawks center Dave Bolland closes in for a rebound try in the first period of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Anaheim Ducks NHL game February 12, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 14, 2013 6:51AM



The thumping music, happy chatter and good vibes that had characterized postgame dressing rooms nearly all season were nowhere to be found after the Blackhawks’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night at the United Center.

The room was mostly empty, with goaltender Corey Crawford patiently answering questions in a corner while the rest of the team quickly cleared out.

Yes, the Hawks extended their streak of games without a regulation loss to 13 to start the season. Yes, they moved within three games of the Ducks’ NHL record of 16. Yes, they got a point despite one of their lesser efforts of the season.

But to go unscathed in a brutal starting stretch, then come home to a frothed-up fan base and lose in such a manner — the Ducks tied it with 2:40 left in regulation on Andrew Cogliano’s rebound goal, then won it when Brandon Saad couldn’t match Corey Perry’s goal in the shootout after the Hawks squandered two overtime power plays — was a disappointment for a team that has come to expect victory every night.

‘‘Well, it’s still good to get a point,’’ said Crawford, sharp again in making 29 saves. ‘‘But it’s definitely frustrating when you’re up and they decide it late like that.’’

For a while, it looked like Saad would be the hero. The crowd — seeing its first Hawks home game in 15 days — was quiet for much of the first 30 minutes, lulled to sleep by a sluggish offense. With the score tied 1-1 after Ryan Getzlaf and Nick Leddy traded second-period power-play goals, Saad brought the crowd to its feet by leaving his own.

Racing down the ice, Saad’s feet got tangled up and he went soaring and scoring — both feet off the ice, his body parallel to the ice when he started his shot — to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. A lengthy review followed before NHL officials in Toronto ruled the puck crossed the line before the net was knocked off its moorings in the ensuing scrum. The ruling infuriated the Ducks.

‘‘I didn’t really know if it went in or not, but obviously it did,’’ Saad said.

The goal sent the 21,188 fans into a tizzy, which was only amplified when the Hawks immediately followed it by killing two penalties, including 64 seconds of a 5-on-3. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Brent Seabrook fended off a full minute of near-constant pressure by the Ducks to sustain and build off the momentum created by Saad’s Superman goal.

But as the Hawks clung to their lead for dear life, the Ducks finally broke through. Cogliano got a perfect rebound of a Francois Beauchemin shot for an easy tying tap-in with 2:40 left in the third period, deflating the Hawks and the UC.

Saad made another big play when he drew a penalty with 9.8 seconds left in regulation. But the Hawks couldn’t score on the overtime power play, nor the next one, also on a Toni Lydman penalty. With their four big guns — Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp — on the ice, the Hawks came up empty. And in the shootout, only Toews scored, with Kane and Saad getting stuffed by Viktor Fasth.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville equated the game to the one in Calgary, in which the Hawks ‘‘stole’’ two points despite having an off night. On Tuesday against the Ducks, they almost got away with it again. Almost.

‘‘[Against] Calgary, we were fortunate; tonight [we were in] the same boat,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘Tough game. That first game back, you need everything going. We almost got to the finish line.’’



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