DUCKS 2, BLACKHAWKS 1
Anaheim 0 0 2 — 2
BLACKHAWKS 1 0 0 — 1
First Period—1, HAWKS, Hossa 22 (Stalberg, Frolik), 13:24. Penalties—Winchester, Ana (boarding), 2:25.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Kane, HAWKS (hooking), 10:50; Kopecky, HAWKS (hooking), 14:00; Lydman, Ana (hooking), 16:28.
Third Period—2, Anaheim, Perry 43 (Getzlaf, Ryan), 1:07. 3, Anaheim, Perry 44 (Getzlaf, Ryan), 15:30. Penalties—None.
Shots on Goal—Anaheim 6-14-5—25. HAWKS 8-12-8—28.
Power-play opportunities—Anaheim 0 of 2; HAWKS 0 of 2.
Goalies—Anaheim, Emery 4-0-0 (28 shots-27 saves). HAWKS, Crawford 29-15-5 (25-23).
Referees—Tom Kowal, Wes McCauley. Linesmen—Dan Schachte, Bryan Pancich. A—22,115 (19,717). T—2:23.
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
If the two points on the table Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks were really the “most valuable two points of the year,” as coach Joel Quenneville put it before the Blackhawks lost 2-1 at the United Center, then what does that make most of the remaining 16 points?
Essential? Critical? Mandatory?
You can go on and on.
The Hawks’ playoff hopes are in jeopardy. The Ducks — emboldened by another MVP-like performance by winger Corey Perry — jumped over the Hawks in the Western Conference standings.
They’re still in the hunt, but they sit in eighth place and have little momentum. It was a huge loss for the Hawks, considering they have three of their next four games on the road, starting with back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins. It also was their last against a Western Conference team in the same pack.
“We’ve got some big games [ahead],” Quenneville said. “We have three on the road, and we’re going into a tough building in Detroit. We’ve got them three times, which are all huge games. We’ve got to find a way to get points. We’re disappointed leaving tonight.”
All the Hawks could muster against Ducks goalie Ray Emery (27 saves) was Marian Hossa’s blast at 13:24 in the first period.
“Sometimes we tried to look for the better play instead of just putting the puck [on goal] and looking for rebound goals and ugly goals,” Hossa said. “Sometimes we tried to be a little too cute. Against a good defensive team like this, that’s sometimes not going to work.”
That’s a common refrain for the Hawks after losses, especially when they muster a few quality scoring chances and traffic is minimal. After the Hawks took the lead, Quenneville felt his team looked happy to be in that contain mode instead of pushing the pace more.
“Maybe a little bit harder push to get that second goal would’ve put us in a better spot,” he said.
So the door was opened for the Ducks, who have shown a knack for rallying recently.
Perry scored twice in the third period against the Hawks’ top defensive pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. His first was on a 3-on-2 breakout with his dynamic linemates, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan.
Perry then put in the game-winner with less than five minutes left — his 44th of the season, surpassing the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead — as Getzlaf and Ryan picked up their second assists.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” said Keith, who was a minus-2 with Seabrook. “They don’t need much opportunity to score. We gave them a couple of chances. I maybe could’ve done a better job on the first one. It’s tough. They make quick plays on their backhands, and it’s tough to read.
“We’re not out of it. But it was a tough game to lose. We’ve talked about that one. Ever since Wednesday, we were focusing on it. To lose it in the third period was frustrating.”
Corey Crawford made 23 saves for the Hawks, who saw their six-game home winning streak end. Quenneville thought both goals were preventable, saying, “as a group of five, I think we could’ve defended better.”
Perry called them breakdowns.
“They’re a team we were chasing, and that win puts us a full point ahead, and we climbed in the standings, and that’s what we talked about throughout the game,” Perry said. “We had chances all night, and finally there were a couple of breakdowns, and we got in on Crawford.”