ANAHEIM — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Wednesday:
1. Two goals in 20 seconds
The Blackhawks keep saying that they need to get out to better starts. But they’re not doing it.
After admitting to not being ready at the start of games, it showed again when the Ducks came out flying — no pun intended — and scored two goals within 20 seconds and outshot the Blackhawks 12-1 past the midway mark of the first period.
It’s the eighth straight game the Blackhawks have allowed the first goal, an alarming trend that isn’t a coincidence at this point.
“I thought we had a decent start, the first shift aside,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We had a pretty good start and we’re down again, so that was tough. But maybe stopped playing a couple minutes after that, after we went down, but as the first period went on, we showed some life again. The second period was excellent. I don’t think they’re better than us, just the puck went in the net. Frustrating.”
2. Fighting back
When you fall down 2-0, the next goal is always crucial. Because once it reaches a three-goal deficit, the game feels out of reach.
But the Blackhawks made sure their first-period struggles didn’t spill into the second period when Erik Gustafsson buried home a terrific pass from Duncan Keith for his fourth goal in seven games after being a healthy scratch on Sunday for the first time this season. It gave the Blackhawks some life.
And then with 27.7 seconds left in the period, Alex DeBrincat evened it up at 2-2 when he corralled a Jonathan Toews pass and swatted it past John Gibson while falling over. The goals that come at the end of periods tend to be backbreakers for teams. The Ducks ultimately responded by scoring the go-ahead goal in the third period and never looked back.
“Tonight was as good an effort as we probably have had since I’ve been here,” Colliton said. “It’s frustrating not to get the points, but nothing to do but keep digging and keep playing.”
3. Four posts
Things aren’t going the Blackhawks’ way. And when that happens, usually you don’t get the bounces you want. You have to earn them.
The Blackhawks hit the post four times against the Ducks, and were close to breaking through on each of them. That’s how close they were to earning at least a point.
“It’s frustrating,” DeBrincat said. “We did a lot of good things, hit a few posts, could’ve went in … a few inches the other way it’s in the net. Can’t do anything about it, but we’re getting closer to the result we want. We just got to find a way to win some games.”
4. Power play regression
When Colliton was hired to be the head coach of the Blackhawks, he immediately put a heavy emphasis on fixing the power play. It’s one of the first things he worked on. At the time, it wasn’t about results, it was about focusing on getting reps and developing patterns.
They made a little bit of progress, but the power play is 1-for-19 in the past eight games and has appeared to regress. They did record five shots on goal on three opportunities, but the results simply haven’t been there.
“I think when Jeremy first came in it really got better and then it’s kind of taken a step back or two the past few games,” Patrick Kane said. “It’d be nice to all get on the same page, get some confidence. You see around the league there’s a lot of power play goals that are scored just off converging at the net and getting that middle guy there, and hopefully banging some pucks that way. So try to do what we can, make the right plays and go out there with confidence.”