Talk about a Black Friday.
Despite some heavy-duty shopping, the normally high-scoring Blackhawks couldn't buy a goal against the Anaheim Ducks as they fell 1-0 before a crowd of 16,994 at the Honda Center.
The Hawks opened their annual circus trip with three straight victories. Then they lost to the Sharks in overtime Wednesday night and to the Ducks in a hard-fought battle two days later.
That's no indication things are going south, but visions of grandeur have been subdued a bit. Two of the top Western Conference opponents have held the Hawks to two goals in two games even though they had the league's second-best offense at 3.55 goals a game.
It's clear the Hawks are still learning how to win against checking-proficient opponents.
"When it's tight around the rink, we have to be comfortable playing that kind of game," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We did a decent job knowing it might be a tight-checking affair, especially as the game progressed and there was nothing going on offensively.
"[The Ducks] know how to play defense. They have a couple of guys on the back end ( Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer) who are as good as there have been in the game.
"They planned to play a tight game, and I was comfortable playing the road game that was in front of us. It might boil down to the one missed opportunity. It was pretty juicy."
That opportunity was when Dave Bolland missed an open net with the Hawks on the power play midway through the second period. With the game scoreless, Bolland was open in front of the net, but his shot sailed outside the left post.
"It should have been in the back of the net," said Bolland, who played well despite the misfire. "There are no excuses for that one."
Eight minutes later, the Ducks caught a break. A bouncing puck found Ryan Getzlaf, who knocked a backhander past Cristobal Huet for the game's only goal.
"I'm a little mad at myself, but it happens," said Huet, who was solid with 20 saves playing for the injured Nikolai Khabibulin. "[Getzlaf's] good. After that goal I tried to keep us in the game and give us a chance to tie it and eventually win it, but it didn't happen."
Bolland wasn't the only Hawks forward lamenting missed chances.
"We had our chances; we just didn't bury them," said Patrick Kane, who led the forwards with 22 minutes 4 seconds of ice time. "Obviously, you're not going to win many games scoring zero goals.
"It was a weird game. There wasn't much going on, and they got that goal … and we started pressing a little bit. When you start pressing, chances don't really come your way."
The Hawks outshot the Ducks 26-21 and kept pressure on Jonas Hiller, but the Ducks' backup goalie recorded his second career shutout, both this season.
"They missed one wide-open net on the power play," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "Those are the kind of things that happen. We just feel fortunate we won, and we'll take it."
Saturday's game in Los Angeles will conclude the trip, with the Hawks already guaranteed better than a .500 record on this swing.
"We gave up one on the road," Quenneville said. "I don't think we should be satisfied knowing we played all right and lost. Let's get excited again."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun