Blackhawks sleepwalk through 3-1 loss to Canucks
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org April 22, 2013 11:34PM
Updated: April 23, 2013 12:32AM
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider knows how difficult it is to coast through a few pressure-free weeks as the NHL’s top team, only to have to turn it on for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy each of the last two seasons. In 2011, they made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Bruins. But last season, they were bounced by the eighth-seeded Kings in five games.
Schneider, though, just didn’t see that happening with the Blackhawks.
‘‘I don’t think they’ve really turned anything off right now,’’ Schneider said. ‘‘They seem to be going better than any team in the league right now. The personnel they have in that room I don’t think will allow them to cruise into the playoffs. I’m sure they’re going to go full throttle.’’
Well, that was before the game Monday, when the Hawks sleepwalked their way through a 3-1 loss at Rogers Arena. For the first two periods, the Hawks mostly stood around and watched as the Canucks relentlessly buzzed, hit, skated and created.
‘‘That’s the worst game of the year,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said.
If not for a few highlight-reel stops by Corey Crawford (29 saves), it would have been worse. The Hawks were outshot 32-23, outhit 37-23 and flat-out outplayed for the first two periods until a spirited third-period salvage effort came up short.
Sometimes good teams lay eggs. It happens all the time. It just hasn’t happened much for the Hawks, who suffered only their sixth regulation loss of the season.
‘‘Chalk it up to being outworked, outskated,’’ defenseman Duncan Keith said. ‘‘I’m not surprised by it; I’m disappointed. We’re all guilty of it.’’
Making things worse, second-line center Dave Bolland left the game with a groin injury in the first period and didn’t return. Quenneville said he didn’t think it was serious.
The Canucks got goals from Jannik Hansen, Zack Kassian (after a dismal Hawks power play) and Daniel Sedin to take a 3-0 lead after two periods. Daniel Carcillo snapped Schneider’s shutout bid in the third — the Hawks are one of three teams not to have been shut out this season — when he scored after a pass by Jonathan Toews hit an official and fell to his stick on the doorstep.
The Hawks next head to Edmonton for a game Wednesday. Their magic number to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy is three points. Keith said that the Hawks’ confidence is fine, that it was just an off-night. Quenneville agreed.
‘‘I’m not concerned at all,’’ he said. ‘‘Throw it in the garbage can. It’s over.’’
Three bad, 129 good
What made the loss so unusual was the fact that in their first 44 games, the Hawks were only really out of one game — a 6-2 loss March 8 at Colorado that snapped their 24-game points streak. Every other game was either a victory, a shootout loss or a one-goal game (an empty-netter March 20 at Anaheim notwithstanding). In fact, until Monday, Quenneville only could think of three periods in which the Hawks were badly outplayed.
‘‘Second period in Colorado [March 8], first period against Edmonton [March 10] and third period against Calgary [Feb. 2] are the three periods,’’ he said. ‘‘You put those together, I don’t know what the score would have been [10-2]. But for the most part, guys have been showing up.’’
Winger Patrick Sharp (shoulder) missed his fifth consecutive game, but Quenneville said it was ‘‘highly likely’’ he would return Wednesday at Edmonton. Goalie Ray Emery (lower-body injury) was back in uniform as Crawford’s backup after missing two games. Defenseman Michal Rozsival (upper-body injury) missed his third game in a row. Center Michal Handzus was a healthy scratch.