Hawks on wrong end of a three-peat

CHICAGO -- Try to figure out which of the three Chicago Blackhawks' losses to the Anaheim Ducks this season Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was talking about with the following quotes.

  • “That was a good play for them, tough play for us. We had the perfect third period up to that point.”

  • “This was a tough game. They played hard. We worked hard. We weren’t our best, but certainly they deserved what they got.”

  • “It’s a disappointment in ways. Hopefully, there’s lessons there because when the games are on the lines, tight games, that’s when we got be at our best.”

    The first quote is from the Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss in Anaheim on March 20.

    The second quote is from their 3-2 shootout loss in Chicago on Feb. 12.

    The third quote is from their 2-1 loss in Chicago on Friday.

    All three quotes were from different games, but they fit all of them.

    The Blackhawks led or tied the Ducks in all three games, and the Ducks scored in the final five minutes of the third period in all three games to twice win in regulation and once force overtime.

    Quenneville was quite familiar with the games’ similarities when he took the podium after the Blackhawks’ latest third-period collapse.

    “You can look at the quotes the last two times we played them,” Quenneville said. “It’s the exact same scenario. It looks like you might get something out of the game. You come up empty. Three games in a row the exact time of the game. Disappointing.”

    In the first game, the Ducks’ Andrew Cogliano scored with 2:40 left in the third period to force overtime. In the second game, Teemu Selanne broke a 2-2 tie with a goal with 4:23 remaining in third period.

    And on Friday, the goal came with 2:08 remaining when defenseman Sheldon Souray rocketed a slap shot which broke Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson's stick and flew past goaltender Ray Emery into the net. Hjalmarsson may as well have been releasing the entire team’s frustration when he flung his stick after Souray scored.

    “I tried to do as much as I could to block the shot, but obviously off my stick there and into the net,” Hjalmarsson said. “That’s the way the puck bounces sometimes. Sometimes you get the bounces with you, sometimes you get them against you. This time it was obviously against.”

    As much as the Ducks may have benefited from a bounce on Friday, a team doesn’t get lucky when it wins three games in a row against a given opponent. The Ducks took six points to the Blackhawks’ one point, and it could prove costly to the Blackhawks down the stretch.

    The Ducks pulled within three points of the Blackhawks in the Western Conference with Friday’s outcome. The Blackhawks have 53 points in 33 games, and the Ducks have 50 points in 34 games.

    “Pretty even games, but you look at how close you are to the finish line and you come up with nothing,” Quenneville said. “It’s almost hard to imagine no wins and only one point.”

    One would think the Ducks would be the last team the Blackhawks would want to see come the playoffs, but Hjalmarsson and Emery said they actually hoped to face the Ducks again.

    “Of course, I want to play (them,)” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s fun games, physical and a lot of skilled players. Of course, it would be fun.”

    Emery said, “I think we’d like to get some retribution the way we lost the last couple games against them.”

    Quenneville would just hope his quotes couldn’t be recycled again.