Hossa coming around, and homestanding Hawks must capitalize

With four goals in two games, Marian Hossa looks to have broken out of his January doldrums. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

CHICAGO -- Going into Monday's game against the Arizona Coyotes, the Chicago Blackhawks were 9-1 when Marian Hossa scored a goal, which begs the simple question: Why doesn't he just score more?

"Sometimes you're getting great chances and great opportunities, but it doesn't go in," Hossa said.

For a two-day stretch, Hossa made the most of his chances and opportunities.

Hossa scored two goals for a second consecutive game, giving him three two-goal efforts on the season. But Chicago couldn't stretch its winning streak to three, losing 3-2 in a shootout.

Not the best way to start an eight-game homestand that goes through Feb. 24. Not the worst, either.

A point's a point, and it's not as if Kanye West will ask the Blackhawks to give it to Beyoncé. (Or will he?)

Chicago nearly stole the win on an Andrew Shaw shot at the end of overtime, but the official behind the net ruled no goal on a puck that bounced off goaltender Mike Smith, trickled to his left and hugged the goal line before play was stopped.

After a delay of several minutes, the replay in Toronto, or Medicine Hat, or wherever the NHL video center is, confirmed the no-goal -- much to the chagrin of the Blackhawks faithful, who chanted a naughty word that could be heard all the way north of the border.

"It was awfully close," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It couldn't get any closer."

It's a game of inches, or millimeters, depending on which side of the border you're on.

Patrick Kane scored for the Blackhawks, while the Coyotes scored twice in their first three shootout attempts against Antti Raanta to claim the road victory.

Hossa couldn't play the hero on his bobblehead night, thanks in part to a power play that went scoreless and managed just two shots in four chances.

Asked for his take on the power play, Quenneville said, "I didn't like it."

But he did like the production from the Hossa-Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews line.

In the second period, Toews got a pass off the boards from Saad and flicked a backhand saucer pass toward the goal. Hossa was in the right place, right in front of the net, and easily buried it to give the Hawks a short-lived 1-0 lead.

"Jonny has great vision, he's a world-class player," Hossa said. "He sees the ice extremely well. Saader did a great job forechecking and soon as Jonny got the puck, he saw me coming to the net. I just tried to put the stick there."

In the third period, Toews found Hossa again near the net for the tying goal.

"I think you get rewarded in our game when you drive the net," Quenneville said. "I don't think we got enough of that tonight at certain times."

Hossa, whose 14 goals are good for fourth on the team, was coming off a pair of third-period tallies Sunday in St. Louis. The Blackhawks have been waiting for him to get rewarded after a slump that saw him light the lamp just twice in January.

"I thought scoring obviously last night helped him there," Quenneville said. "That line got a little more production again tonight off of probably feeling good around the net. Nice little forecheck, nice little play and finish as well. Nice to see [Hossa] getting scoring. I think that line was a lot more effective tonight."

Hossa, Toews and Saad can throw their weight around when they're clicking, and the Blackhawks desperately need their consistency come playoff time -- or, you know, until Quenneville inevitably puts Kane and Toews together for some magic.

For now, however, Quenneville would just like to see the 36-year-old Hossa score a couple goals every game.

OK, Quenneville didn't say that with words. But I don't think he'd mind.

"Top players, you go around the league and that's what makes them top players -- they want to be good every night," Quenneville said. "The consistency is what makes them different from other players. They want to be the best they can be on a game-to-game basis. He's done that for a long time in his career."

It's a long season, but this homestand is a perfect time for the Blackhawks to string some wins together after going 8-8-1 since Jan. 1. They can't get complacent at home, where they have a 16-7-2 record, right?

Well, they can, I guess, but they shouldn't.

The Blackhawks host Vancouver on Wednesday, New Jersey on Friday and then the Pittsburgh Penguins for a nationally televised game Sunday afternoon.

Chicago sits third in the Central Division with 69 points, three behind St. Louis and seven behind Nashville. But the Blackhawks are first in the Western Conference with a plus-39 goal differential.

You can say nothing matters until the playoffs, but this is a team with the highest of expectations, made up of players who know how great they can be on a nightly basis.

"I just play my game," Hossa said. "And I know good things will happen."