It’s come down to the referees.
Joel Quenneville probably wasn’t wrong in disagreeing with a high-sticking call against Jordan Hendry which led to a pair of third period, power-play goals for Colorado, in their 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
But bad calls happen, and the Hawks couldn’t overcome it.
“I totally disagree with the call,” Quenneville said. “But we still have to get through that.”
The Hawks 24th ranked penalty killers could not. The double minor and ensuing scores gave the game to the Avalanche.
“[Our] penalty kill has been pretty good lately,” Brent Seabrook said. “Tonight we gave up too much on it. We have to play better as a unit. We have to do all the little things better.”
Seabrook and his partner, Duncan Keith, are going through another rough stretch. For two periods they played a pretty solid game but then came the four-minute Avalanche power play. They were on the ice for both goals against.
“We need these guys in a big way and I think that was a point in the game we just had to get through it and we didn’t,” Quenneville said. “I didn’t like the plays we made on their goals there. I thought we could have defended better on both of them.”
Are you listening, defensemen? Keith and Seabrook were on the ice for eight and seven goals against, in the two games versus the Avalanche this week.
At least this game, unlike Monday's, was well played by the home team for the first 40 minutes. During the game's first two periods, the Hawks limited Colorado to just 12 shots on net.
“I think we were playing the game we were looking for tonight,” Quenneville said of the first two periods.
Jonathan Toews agreed with that assessment, but it doesn’t lessen the frustration of, once again, getting nothing out of the game.
“You can say there’s one bad game out of three, but at the end of the day we only have one point in our last three games, and what good is that?” Toews said. “You can talk all day about doing good things out there and working for chances and working around the net and giving those second efforts, but it just doesn’t cut it when you don’t get the results that you want.”
Still, add two more games to the growing list contests that have gotten away from the Hawks in the third period this season. Those are points nearly in their pocket but instead they are left with nothing.
“I’m proud of the guys for not getting down on each other, which is the easy thing to do,” Toews said. “Let’s stick with it, we’re not going to give up, it’s a long season and stretches like this, when you work hard and you don’t win, it makes you appreciate winning that much more.”
Joel Quenneville wasn’t the only one who disagreed with the four-minute penalty assessed to Jordan Hendry after he allegedly high-sticked Daniel Winnik. Winnik was bleeding, hence the double minor.
“I know I didn’t get him with the blade of my stick or anything,” Hendry said. “I’m not sure how he got cut there.”
Quenneville thinks he knows what the referees missed.
“He hit [with] his glove,” Quenneville said. “From [the] outside I don’t even know how you could even see something like that. I don’t know how they could make that call. You have to be right when you make that call.”
Viktor Stalberg left the game in the second period after being checked from behind and into the boards by defenseman Ryan O’Byrne. Joel Quenneville said it was an upper body injury and Stalberg would be re-evaluated on Thursday. It looked like he may have hit his head on the boards.