Lack of consistency again haunts Hawks as they fail to make up ground in playoff race

PHILADELPHIA -- As they begin the final phase of the regular season, the Chicago Blackhawks will search for a common element that has plagued them all season: consistency.

The Blackhawks, who entered the Wells Fargo Center here off a 3-1 victory Monday night in Carolina, missed a golden opportunity against the reeling Flyers, who had lost four consecutive games and whose playoff hopes were dimly lit since suffering a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Boston Bruins on March 7.

On top of that, Flyers coach Craig Berube’s future also has recently come under fire, notably as the team spins out of playoff reach.

On Wednesday night against the Blackhawks, however, Philadelphia looked more like the team with playoff aspirations within reach as they dominated play in a 4-1 victory.

It had started out as a special night for Chicago defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who returned to the stage where he played with the Flyers since the 2007-08 season. Timonen was cheered in the pregame introductions, as well as during a video tribute during the opening period. He also received ovations during his early shifts.

On the other hand, the Blackhawks, still in the hunt for the Central Division, wasted an opportunity to gain ground on the second-place Nashville Predators and the first-place St. Louis Blues, who were both idle.

Chicago trails Nashville by four points and St. Louis by five with nine games left to play. It will take a maximum effort to get back to the postseason.

“We play better lately when we have a lead lately,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who had the lone Blackhawks goal. “We obviously have to do better than we did tonight. First and foremost, we have to be operating on all cylinders.

“Tonight wasn’t the effort we expect. We know we have to tighten things. We can still make a run at the division. In our last game, we were able to get out early. Tonight, we couldn’t get going.”

Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds scored his team-high 28th goal of the season and broke a scoreless tie when the Blackhawks had trouble clearing the zone. He took a cross-ice pass from Matt Read and beat Corey Crawford to the stick side at 7:30 of the opening period.

The Flyers made it 2-0 when Ryan White redirected Carlo Colaiacovo’s slapper from the point past Crawford’s stick side at 6:09 of the second period. Philadelphia added its second goal of the third period when Claude Giroux tapped Jakub Voracek’s shot from the right faceoff circle past Crawford at 13:58 to make it 3-0.

Andrew Shaw got the Blackhawks on the board when he scored his 13th of the season tapped in Duncan Keith’s slapper from the top of the slot past Steve Mason’s stick side on the power play at 2:24 of the final period. Chicago scored just 14 seconds into the penalty.

Philadelphia sealed the contest when Michael Raffl fired a wrist shot between Crawford’s legs on the power play that made it 4-1 at 15:55.

Chicago did outshoot the Flyers 34-33. On Monday night, they were outshot 44-24 in a victory.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quennville lately has been juggling his lineup in an effort to add some scoring punch. Left wing Bryan Bickell and defenseman Teuvo Teravainen against the Flyers were healthy scratches and were replaced by Andrew Desjardins and Daniel Carcillo.

The Blackhawks have scored five goals in their past four games after scoring 12 during the previous three games. Chicago will continue to look for scoring options to replace injured Patrick Kane, who has a team-high 64 points and has missed the past 12 games with a fractured clavicle.

“We’re looking for some energy,” Quennville said. “We’re just trying to put the best lineup out there, that’s all. There isn’t anything else to it. We missed an opportunity tonight. We gave up a couple of goals that hurt us.

“We need consistent scoring options right now. A team like Philadelphia tonight was a dangerous team. They were struggling and came right at us. We need to focus on what we can do well over the next few weeks.”

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is disappointed with recent results.

"Our last few efforts haven’t been good enough,” Toews said. “Goaltenders are keeping us alive, and it could’ve been worse than it was tonight. It has been a tough stretch. We haven’t played well on this road trip. As a group, we’ll figure out what’s going on and what we have to do better.

“We have to do to get everyone firing and all four lines engaged, get that energy and enthusiasm back, like we did before this road trip. Once we figure that out, just take it one game at a time and get back to how we were playing before that.”

Timonen, 40, who joined the club a month ago and has contributed sparingly, was moved by his former fans’ support.

“I had some good memories tonight in this building,” he said. “It was cool, and the fans have always been great. But it was hard for us tonight, and we have to work to chance that soon.”