Blackhawks coach Denis Savard lamented "bad bounces" after Wednesday night's 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, but that implies the result had more to do with bad luck than the Red Wings' superior skill.
It wasn't a bad bounce that caused Martin Lapointe to miss an open net by a wide margin from just outside the goal crease.
It wasn't luck that had Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk jumping the passing lane for the now predictable Hawks defense-to-defense pass on the power play, resulting in a short-handed breakaway goal for Datsyuk.
And while the Hawks had enough chances in the first period to take a two- or three-goal lead, those chances don't amount to anything if they aren't put away.
By contrast, Henrik Zetterberg put away a perfect thread-the-needle pass from Datsyuk to give the Red Wings their inevitable lead midway through the third period.
"Things happen, it's unfortunate," Savard said.
Unfortunate, but by now all too familiar.
For the last couple of seasons the Hawks have played the Red Wings well for a while only to have Detroit turn its game up an extra notch or two, reaching a level the Hawks can't attain.
And while the Hawks continue to tout all their promising "kids" who will one day lead them back to respectability, consider the two stars of the night for the Red Wings.
Datsyuk, who scored his 100th career goal Wednesday, was taken 171st overall in the 1998 draft. Zetterberg, who got his 31st and 32nd goals of the season, was taken 210th overall in 1999. The Hawks selected 17 players in those two drafts, none of whom are on their roster.
The Hawks led 1-0 on a Radim Vrbata goal in the first period, but couldn't do any more damage despite outshooting the Wings 16-11.
"The first period, we probably could have been up 3-0," Savard said. "[Detroit] knows how to finish."
A Duncan Keith turnover eventually resulted in Kris Draper beating Nikolai Khabibulin through his legs to tie the game. The Red Wings then took the lead on Datsyuk's short-handed goal at 9:17 of the third period.
Datsyuk's goal began a horrid final 11 minutes for Hawks captain Adrian Aucoin. Datsyuk's pass on Zetterberg's goal eluded both Aucoin and Keith. Aucoin fanned on a clearing attempt and also fell down in the final minute, gift-wrapping Zetterberg's second goal of the night into an empty net.
"Ever since I've been here, if [something bad] can happen, it's going to happen," Aucoin said. "I seem to find a way to have these things happen."
Martin Havlat, Tuomo Ruutu and Martin St. Pierre were each minus-4 on the night and Aucoin was minus-3. Red Wings future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was plus-4 and is plus-42 on the season. Cam Barker suffered a bruised ankle, according to Savard, and didn't play the third period. Savard said Barker is doubtful for Thursday. Rene Bourque returned to the lineup and played about 12 minutes with no shots on goal. The Hawks won just 33 percent of the faceoffs with St. Pierre winning 5 of 22. Detroit's Draper won 13 of 15. Winger Tony Salmelainen suffered a hip pointer in Tuesday's practice and was placed on injured reserve.
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