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Goaltending issues loom after Hawks lose

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- If Stan Bowman was on the fence about his goaltending, he may have just fallen over to the other side.

With little time before the trade deadline at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks need to decide how badly they need or want a goaltender. After the Hawks’ 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the goalies they have didn’t exactly convince their bosses to stop working the phones.

Antti Niemi started the game but lasted less than three minutes into the second period. He gave up goals 25 seconds apart and got sent to the tunnel, literally. It’s where the backup goalie sits at the Nassau Coliseum, and it’s where a rusty Cristobal Huet emerged.

Huet, seeing action for the first time since Feb. 5, promptly gave up a bad goal. Glove side, no traffic, bad angle. That’s three strikes. He had a perfect look at it and it went over his glove. He would give up one more in a horrendous middle 20 minutes for the visitors. Up 2-1 after the first period, the Hawks were down 5-2 after two. Joel Quenneville summed up his netminders’ performance on this night.

“Today was just OK,” Quenneville said. “We know it can be better. That territory is a little [more] challenging than other areas as far as scrutiny and evaluation so we’ll just move ahead and be better across the board.”

“Not too many saves in the second,” Niemi said. “Just the two goals [for him]. That’s it.”

The Hawks have had a recent trend of giving back whatever they’ve earned in the opening period by not competing at the same level in the middle 20 minutes. It’s something Quenneville has noticed as well.

“Keeping the puck out of our net, recently, has been a problem. Especially in that second period,” he said.

After giving up four in the second, the Hawks are now plus 10 in goal differential in that period for the season. For comparison, they are plus 20 in the first and plus 13 in the third.

Maybe those numbers will change if the Hawks complete a deal for a goaltender. Rumors abound they are trying to upgrade in net, and with only hours to go to get it done and another poor performance in that area, the time might be right.

NOTES:

  • Quenneville said he’s “not complaining” about the disallowed goal Kris Versteeg scored while the Hawks were down 5-2. Ben Eager was in the crease and may have “bumped” Dwayne Roloson, but no penalty was called.

  • Quenenville discussed the deals the Hawks have made in the last two days for defensive depth, including the addition of Nick Bonyton, on Tuesday, from Anaheim. “Some years you might be going 10 deep on the back end and defense depth is crucial,” Quenneville said in reference to the playoffs.