CHICAGO -- With Wednesday’s game in St. Louis and two upcoming games on Friday and Saturday, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn’t normally ask his players to practice in between those days unless he believed he had a good reason.
The Blackhawks provided him with that reason when they allowed a game-winning goal with 22 seconds remaining against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Chicago would have earned at least one point if the game had gone into overtime.
That result, coupled with the Blackhawks' squandering a two-goal lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third period last week, provided Quenneville plenty of incentive to get his players back on the ice on Thursday. Quenneville held a short practice, but it was long enough to get his point across.
“Today is a new day,” Quenneville said after Thursday’s practice at the United Center. “I think we got a message that we learned that those type of games, we got to get that game to overtime, and the value of points -- getting the one, and the second one is the bonus. But certainly leaving two points out there and a prior point from Tampa, here we are .500 and we felt we played three pretty good games.”
One of the Blackhawks’ greatest strengths last season was finding ways to pull out points on most nights. They started the season with a 24-game point streak and finished the 48-game regular-season schedule with a league-best 77 points.
Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa thought there was an important lesson to learn from the team's past two games.
“These points have the same importance as the points at the end of the season in April,” Hossa said. “Definitely, we know what we have to do. When we go out there, we have to be more cautious. What’s the score, what time is it in the last period and just manage the game better.
“We wasted three points in the last two games, basically. We just have to learn from it. I felt we did a lot of good things in that game. We had lots of chances. We just have to capitalize on those chances.”
Line changes: Quenneville tried a few different line combinations against the Blues on Wednesday and experimented a little further in practice on Thursday. His third line Thursday was Brandon Saad at left wing, Marcus Kruger at center and Andrew Shaw on right wing, and his fourth line was Brandon Bollig at left wing, Joakim Nordstrom at center and Ben Smith at right wing.
“It’s just an option we have going forward,” Quenneville said. “We wanted to see how it looked in practice.”
Hossa in back-to-back games: Quenneville said he was planning for Hossa to play in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, but he would see how Hossa felt after Friday.
Hossa said previously he might need some games off this season in order to not aggravate a back injury.