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Hawks' offense cold as ice

Tribune staff reporter

This is what it came to Sunday night for Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney.

With his team trailing by two goals and generating very little offensively, Yawney pulled goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin for an extra attacker with more than three minutes left.

The Hawks did score, but they then gave up an empty-netter and came up short in a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at the Arrowhead Pond before a small crowd announced at 13,078.

The loss was the third in a row for the Hawks after they had opened the trip with two wins.

"We definitely wanted .500 or better," captain Adrian Aucoin said. "It's been a tough last few games."

The loss also dropped the Hawks six points behind the Ducks, a team they would have to catch and pass to get back in the playoff hunt, which is starting to look more and more unlikely.

It was a night on which the Hawks never really looked dangerous offensively despite outshooting the Ducks 35-25.

"When you get opportunities, you have to create momentum," Yawney said, pointing the finger at a power play that was 0-for-7 and had few if any prime scoring chances.

"It wasn't anything [Anaheim] was doing. We just weren't executing."

In Vancouver, down a pair of goals in the final minute, Yawney left Khabibulin in the net because he didn't think the Hawks were making enough happen offensively to make an extra attacker worthwhile.

He said a couple of days ago that he might have made a mistake in not pulling Khabibulin and didn't want to make it again, which is why he went for broke Sunday night.

Mark Bell scored his 10th goal of the season and eighth in six games to pull the Hawks within 2-1, but Rob Niedermayer popped in an empty-net goal with 39 seconds left to finish it off.

Both teams set offense back to the bad old NHL over the first 50 minutes. The game was scoreless until midway through the third period.

Teemu Selanne, written off by many, gave the Ducks the lead with his 14th goal of the season, getting behind Aucoin and banging in a rebound of a Joffrey Lupul shot.

The Ducks made it 2-0 when Pavol Vorobiev, back in the lineup after missing three games with a sore ankle, lost the puck along the boards in the Anaheim zone.

The Ducks had a two-on-one, with Jonathan Hedstrom and Lupul against Duncan Keith, and Lupul beat Khabibulin for his ninth goal of the season and third in two games against the Hawks.

"We were tied after two periods, and it doesn't matter if it was 0-0," Khabibulin said. "I thought that was good, but it didn't turn out that way."

So after winning six of eight and harboring grand dreams after leaving Edmonton on Nov. 19, the Hawks are in the midst of another losing streak.

"Back to square one, unfortunately," Yawney said. "We've shown we're capable of playing, but as a team we need to be more consistent."

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