Tuesday was supposed to provide the easy part of Chicago’s six-game road trip heading into the Olympic break. Instead, the Blackhawks are now winless in four straight games.
Following an overtime loss at Calgary in the opener of the swing, the Blackhawks visit the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night in the first of four straight road games against the Pacific Division’s elite.
This upcoming series of tests, however, isn’t quite as daunting for Chicago (32-10-13) as it might be for other clubs. Despite the 5-4 loss to the Flames, the Blackhawks are 11-0-5 against the Pacific this season.
Still, the team isn’t happy about its current state. Overtime is one area for improvement as Joel Quenneville’s squad fell to 0-6 in games decided before the shootout. Chicago’s 13 losses after regulation are the most in the league.
"Overtime’s been a sore spot," Quenneville said. "I think we’ve got enough assets in there. In overtime, we’ve got to find a way to make it happen."
Marian Hossa scored twice for the Blackhawks, including his third short-handed goal of the season to tie the game 4-all at the end of the second.
The Canucks (27-18-9) haven’t played the most inspiring hockey in their first three games of a four-game homestand with losses to Nashville and Edmonton sandwiching a 5-4 overtime win over Phoenix. The 4-2 loss to the Oilers on Monday featured a pair of goals from Canucks forward Jordan Schroeder, his first since March 21.
It was Schroeder’s first game since fracturing his ankle on Oct. 19. He also missed the first six games of the season while working his way back from a broken foot suffered in the preseason, which followed an offseason spent rehabbing after shoulder surgery.
"Some hockey gods repaid me tonight," Schroeder said.
The return of the second-year center could help alleviate some other scoring issues if the 23-year-old is able to progress. At the top of the list is the absence of Henrik Sedin, who has missed four games with an upper-body injury. Brother Daniel Sedin has gone 13 games without a goal, while Alexandre Burrows hasn’t scored in any of the 22 games of his injury-shortened season.
The Canucks have scored 13 goals on a 3-5-0 stretch with a 2-for-32 power play. They’ve scored more than two goals only once in that time.
"It’s hard to win unless your best players are your best players," said coach Mike Sullivan of his struggling top lines as he fills in for suspended head coach John Tortorella.
"It’s hard to win consistently. We’ve got to find a way to get our top guys going here. The team relies on them to be more consistent and making contributions on the score sheet, and it’s hard to win in the absence of it."
Roberto Luongo allowed three goals on 19 shots, but the Canadian Olympic goalie has dazzled in his last six regular-season starts against Chicago with a 4-1-1 record, 1.64 goals-against average and .953 save percentage.
His counterpart, Corey Crawford, was supposed to have the night off against the Flames but replaced Chicago No. 2 Antti Raanta after the rookie allowed four goals on 15 shots. Crawford is 3-1-2 with a 1.63 GAA and .944 save percentage in his last six starts against Vancouver.
The Blackhawks are 1-0-1 this season against the Canucks, falling 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 20 in Chicago.
Daniel Sedin has seven points in his last four games against the Blackhawks, while Patrick Kane has nine in his last eight meetings with the Canucks.