Blackhawks’ power play struggles in shootout loss to Penguins
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org September 19, 2013 9:48PM
Pittsburgh Penguins' Deryk Engelland, left, and Chicago Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell battle as they wait for the puck during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game in Chicago, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: September 20, 2013 12:57AM
It’s only the preseason, but the Blackhawks’ power play appears to be in midseason form.
The Blackhawks erased a two-goal deficit to force overtime, but lost in a shootout 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a preseason game Thursday night at the United Center. The Hawks had plenty of bright spots, but went a glaring 0-for-6 on the power play for the second straight game.
It’s a familiar problem for the Hawks, one of the lone weak spots during their run to the Stanley Cup last season. The Hawks were without Jonathan Toews (lower-body injury), Marian Hossa (upper body), Duncan Keith (healthy) and Brent Seabrook (healthy), among others, but Joel Quenneville wasn’t using that as an excuse.
“They had a lot of pieces missing, too,” he said. “Our power play had two A-plus looks, Kaner had two great chances. But no production. Can’t be happy with it. We score 5-on-5 by shooting the puck. Why can’t we shoot the puck 5-on-4?”
Other than that, there was plenty to like for Quenneville. Patrick Sharp and Ben Smith each scored for the second time in as many games, and Brandon Bollig continued his strong training camp with the game-tying goal with 6:53 left in the third period, swatting in a rebound past Tomas Vokoun during a goalmouth scrum.
Smith’s goal came shorthanded, after he picked the pocket of Pittsburgh’s Derrick Pouliot. Smith is the leading candidate to replace Michael Frolik on the Hawks’ top penalty-killing unit, and Quenneville said it was his best game yet.
“It feels good,” Smith said. “[But] it’s one game. One game’s not going to make this team. So as I said Tuesday (after a 2-0 win over Detroit), it’s a step forward.”
Pouliot, Joe Vitale and Sidney Crosby — in his first game at the United Center since Jan. 13, 2006, his rookie season — scored for the Penguins. Nikolai Khabibulin made 27 saves for the Hawks.
NOTEWORTHY: Toews, who’s been nursing a lower-body injury since the first day of camp, will make his preseason debut Friday night at Washington. … Nineteen-year-old Teuvo Teravainen, who’s been dazzling at times in Toews’ spot between Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane, said he’s returning to Finland on Friday. He’ll play the season for Jokerit in the SM-Liiga, but said he believes he’ll be able to make the Hawks roster next fall, and wouldn’t rule out returning in the spring after the Finnish season ends. He called his camp experience “awesome.” … Kane, Teravainen and Drew LeBlanc all failed to score in the shootout. Beau Bennett scored for Pittsburgh, while Khabibulin stopped Crosby.