Blackhawks offense still missing in action in 4-1 loss to Capitals

"If we like it, we wouldn't be changing." — coach Joel Quenneville on his shuffling of lines

After every road game, the Blackhawks dressing room resembles the house from "Home Alone," with everybody rushing everywhere to get out and catch a flight.

In particular, this was a two-game trip the Hawks should be glad was over so quickly after a second consecutive worrisome performance in a 4-1 loss to the Capitals on Thursday night at the Verizon Center.

This loss follows the dud the Hawks had Wednesday night in a 3-0 loss to the Flyers, and even though the Hawks looked better Thursday, an admittedly low bar to clear, they head home for Saturday's game against the reeling Blue Jackets with some concerns.

Near the top of the list is generating offense from their forwards. Outside of the second line of center Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin, other Hawks' forwards have managed just one goal through five games. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa have been silent as their line has failed to produce much offense with a revolving door at left wing.

The Hawks' lone goal Thursday came in the third period when defenseman Viktor Svedberg scored the first of his career.

Against the Capitals, coach Joel Quenneville broke out his line mixer again with the best chances coming from the fourth line of Andrew Shaw, Andrew Desjardins and Marcus Kruger. The Hawks managed 17 shots in the second period but just 10 in the first and third combined.

"We do a lot of good things. You have to see it that way, too," Kruger said. "But we can play much better. We have a lot to work on, especially in our own end."

The Hawks might have expected an adjustment period given the amount of turnover on the roster from last season, but that doesn't make it any easier to go through. Defenseman Duncan Keith said even though the Hawks have had lulls in previous seasons, they can't rest on their laurels and expect their play to improve on its own.

"(You can't) ever sit back and think it's going to turn around," Keith said. "It's always a work in progress. We have to realize what we're doing well and what we're not doing well. We have a lot of talent, but I still think we can work a bit harder, win some races to the puck."

Quenneville was more complimentary of the Hawks' play Thursday, but still tried several different line combinations, including moving Kane and Bryan Bickell up to the top line and teaming Hossa with Anisimov and Panarin.

"If we like it, we wouldn't be changing," Quenneville said.

There is good news for the Hawks as they arrive back in Chicago. On Saturday, they face the Blue Jackets, who have allowed 20 goals over their first four games. It's as good a chance as any for the Hawks to find a groove.

"These are the games that help build character as a team and we're going to rebound from it," Shaw said. "We're going to regroup."

Cumiskey back in fold: The Hawks made a move Thursday to help address their depth along the blue line and brought back defenseman Kyle Cumiskey on a one-year deal. Cumiskey, who was on a professional tryout agreement until Thursday, was placed on waivers in a move that would allow the Hawks to send Cumiskey down to Rockford if he clears waivers. Cumiskey, 28, spent most of last season in Rockford after returning to North America following a stint in Sweden. He played in seven regular-season games and nine in the postseason.

chine@tribpub.com

Twitter @ChristopherHine

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