With nine games at home and three on the road, December was supposed to be a big month for the Blackhawks. But after losing Sunday night for the sixth time in seven games this month, about the only big thing is knowing they'll be home for Christmas.
The Hawks outshot and outhit the Florida Panthers but fell 3-1 before 12,926 at the United Center as goaltender Tomas Vokoun stymied the Hawks and dropped their record to 15-15-2.
"We have to stop this now," Hawks defenseman Brent Sopel said. "December's been awful. We haven't done nearly enough in December. Every night is a desperate time. Every two points we let slip is going to cost us."
Vokoun made 44 saves and allowed only Dave Bolland's first career goal, which tied the game 1-1 at the 19-minute-30-second mark of the first period. After Florida's Rostislav Olesz beat Hawks goalie Patrick Lalime with a slap shot from between the circles at 12:19, Bolland picked up a rebound on his backhand, and the rookie put it into the net.
"We have to keep trying," said Jonathan Toews, who sat at his locker in full uniform with his head down after having a game-high eight shots on goal in the defeat. "We just have to hate to lose a little more. Right now we don't hate to lose enough. That's why we aren't coming out with two points very often."
Florida extended the lead with two goals in the second period. Richard Zednik took a feed from Radek Dvorak and scored at 6:25, and Jay Bouwmeester floated a shot from just inside the blue line over Lalime's shoulder to score a power-play goal at 16:54.
"We didn't play our game; we didn't play as a team," Bolland said. "We need to regroup and get back at it. It's been a tough month. There are just some things we have to work on and come back with it."
The Hawks' 45-24 edge in shots wasn't the only part of the game they controlled. They outhit Florida 20-14 and had the edge in blocked shots 12-5.
"We had a lot of opportunities and a lot of good chances to score, and their goalie seemed to play really well," Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "We did a lot of things great and a lot of things well and at the same time we gave up some opportunities, too, and that's what bites us sometimes.
"We're just one breakaway from going on a tear. We have a great group that's battling hard. We're getting opportunities but just not putting them in the back of the net."
Hawks coach Denis Savard was at a loss to explain his team's lack of success both Sunday night and during December.
"I have no explanation," he said. "We just played hard and had enough chances to win. That's what's been happening in this building with goalies lately. They just find ways to beat us."
One-timersAfter seeing more than 1,000 fans show up to the Hawks' morning skate Saturday in Buffalo to see hometown hero Patrick Kane, the Hawks are exploring the possibility of opening their morning skates for some games. "It's something we're looking into," said assistant general manager for hockey operations Stan Bowman, adding that security and other arena personnel issues have to be taken into account. ... Defenseman Andrei Zyuzin and fellow veteran Sergei Samsonov were healthy scratches. David Koci and Magnus Johansson returned to the lineup.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun