CHICAGO -- The words and phrases Joel Quenneville must have been using on his Chicago Blackhawks while the Vancouver Canucks scored three consecutive second-period goals Wednesday are easy to imagine for anyone who watched the EPIX series "Road to the NHL Winter Classic."
The Blackhawks persevered and gained a point in a 5-4 overtime loss Wednesday despite twice trailing by two goals, but they might've had a chance at an outright victory but for a few questionable decisions with the puck by their defensemen in the second period.
Oduya and Rundblad had already gotten away with a turnover each in the Blackhawks' defensive zone before the Canucks made them pay.
With Chicago ahead 1-0, Oduya got the puck behind the Blackhawks' net in the left corner at 4 minutes, 30 seconds of the period. He had time and space, and two teammates prepared to receive the puck a short distance ahead of him. Oduya attempted to connect with center Brad Richards, but the pass missed and went directly to the Canucks' Chris Higgins. Richards broke up an initial scoring opportunity, but the puck remained in the zone and the Canucks found the net moments later.
Later in the second, Rundblad was trying to retrieve a loose puck at the front of the Blackhawks' net and knocked it directly to a Canucks skater. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made an initial save, but the Canucks again kept the puck in the zone. Rundblad had a chance to redeem himself, only to whiff on a loose puck. Bo Horvat didn't -- and scored to put Vancouver up 2-1.
The two miscues had Quenneville scratching his head. He wasn't upset with the defensemen's defensive play, but rather with their choices.
"I think it was more not defending as the poor decisions we made with the puck that led to all their action." Quenneville said. "Sometimes you got to keep it simple. Nothing wrong with indirect plays or ahead play. ... Some of the decisions we made with the puck were tough to watch."
Blackhawks blueliner Duncan Keith said he thought the whole defense wasn't at its best in Wednesday's first 40 minutes.
"Obviously we scored four goals, that should be enough to win the game," Keith said. "We don't want to give up that many. It was a bit sloppy play for the first couple periods -- first, second periods -- and picked it up after that."
Wednesday marked the 10th consecutive game since Quenneville switched up his defensive partnerships. He went from pairings of Keith-Brent Seabrook, Oduya-Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Rozsival-Rundblad to putting together Hjalmarsson-Seabrook, Oduya-Rozsival and Keith-Rundblad.
Quenneville made the adjustments because the Blackhawks had gone through a stretch where they were allowing more 5-on-5 goals than they were scoring. Chicago was outscored 25-21 during an 11-game stretch from Dec. 23 to Jan. 18. Since the changes, the Blackhawks have seen some improvement. They have scored and allowed 18 goals over the past 10 games. They had a positive differential before being outscored 4-1 at even strength Wednesday.
The one pairing that has still struggled at times is Oduya and Rozsival. They have been on the ice for eight of the Blackhawks' 18 goals allowed over the past 10 games.
Quenneville was asked about the pairing before the game, but he wasn't critical of the duo.
"Every game is different," Quenneville said. "They get a lot of assignments on the defensive side of things, but I don't think anybody wants to be scored on."
Overall, Quenneville has liked what the pairings have given him.
"I thought we had a short-term little blip there that we tried to do something different there, and more so get [Rundblad] on the right side," Quenneville said before the game. "And Runds, I think has done a nice job over there and I think we got a little bit more balanced. I think we had a good road trip, an important stretch of our season and we'll see. Every game is different in how we distribute the ice time. We have a lot of options, a lot of versatility with a lot of guys playing with different partners in the course of games."
Of course, Quenneville could have done without Wednesday's game.