Few expect the Chicago Blackhawks to win many games at this stage of the season, but if they’re going to have a shot, you they to take some.
The Hawks on Tuesday were outshot 48-14 during a 5-2 road loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
The last time they managed just 14 shots was Nov. 22, 2007, in a 2-1 road win against the Calgary Flames.
“It was kind of sloppy,” Hawks coach Luke Richardson said late Tuesday.
“The beginning of the second period, we challenged ourselves to be a little bit sharper, a little better. And the first part of the (third) period we weren’t bad, right up to the two-on-one (Max) Domi and (Andreas) Athanasiou had, and we missed and it went right down the other way (for a goal) against us.”
“And then we were just kind of chasing it after that. Not our best game.”
Five penalties didn’t help.
“Not undisciplined play, but unfortunately we were in the penalty box too much early,” Richardson said. “And that gives the other team offensive momentum and puck possession, and we have none. So we have had guys that don’t even touch the puck for 10 minutes of the first period.”
While Richardson’s team struggled, it was a great opening night for Rick Tocchet, who made his debut as Canucks coach after Bruce Boudreau was fired Sunday.
Andrei Kuzmenko scored the Canucks’ first two goals in the second period, and 11 Canucks had points.
Ex-Hawks goalie Collin Delia needed just 12 saves to notch a win in his first meeting against his former team. Petr Mrázek had 43 saves in the loss.
Meanwhile, Hawks forward Luke Philp made his NHL debut, playing 8 minutes, 45 minutes mainly on the third line with Sam Lafferty and Jason Dickinson. Philp didn’t take a shot or register a point but played a key role on Lafferty’s second-period goal, running interference legally on Canucks defenseman Travis Dermott to give Lafferty a lane.
With his 573rd point, Patrick Kane passed Jeremy Roenick (572) for second-most road points by a U.S.-born player and trails only Mike Modano (636), according to NHL Stats.
MacKenzie Entwistle played his 100th career game.
The Hawks still are having issues with slow starts. They were outshot 12-1 early and 21-6 in the first period. Three of those Hawks shots came short-handed, two on the power play and one on five-on-five — though Kane made it count by scoring the game’s first goal. The Hawks went about 10 minutes before their first shot on goal against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and about 15 minutes against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.
“We kind of pushed envelopes and plays and maybe passed up shots and didn’t execute when we had a shot miss the net,” Richardson said. “I don’t think we attacked their net as much as we needed to do, especially on the road.”
The Hawks couldn’t seem to get a body or stick on Kuzmenko when they needed it. Kuzmenko snuck behind the defense to lift Ilya Mikheyev’s rebound over Mrázek in the second period to put the Canucks on the board. Then 8½ minutes later, he darted from behind Jake McCabe to tap in an Elias Pettersson centering pass.
Breakaways and rebounds were recurring problems for the Hawks against the Canucks. Mrázek turned away the breakaways (at least three), but Mrázek faced 11 rebound shots, according to naturalstattrick.com., and three found the net.
Two of those goals came almost back-to-back when Mrázek lay flat and couldn’t locate the puck, and Dakota Joshua scooped it in. Thirty-four seconds later, Mrázek shifted to his glove side to defend a J.T. Miller shot but gave Conor Garland and Sheldon Dries two more cracks at the open side — and Dries landed his.
The Hawks had three power plays against by far the worst penalty kill in the league (65.9%) but went scoreless. On the third, the Hawks pulled the goalie for a sixth attacker, but Caleb Jones’ attempt hit the post. After a timeout, Richardson put the first unit back on but almost immediately they gave up a short-handed empty-netter to Bo Horvat.
After going two games without a shot on goal for the first time all season, Kane scored on his first shot on goal and second attempt to put the Hawks up 1-0 in the first period. It was his ninth goal of the season but just his third on the road.
Lafferty’s red-hot January continues: He scored his third goal and fifth point in eight games this month. In the second period, he took a breakout pass from Seth Jones, then made a sudden change of direction on Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, wheeling around to the high slot and slapping a shot.
Mrázek had a phenomenal first period, making 21 saves, including seven during three power plays. Three stops in particular stood out: a pad save against Curtis Lazar, who was alone on the doorstep; a point-blank tip-in shot by Horvat on a power play; and a Luke Schenn breakaway coming out of the penalty box.
After Joshua splatted Kane against the end-wall glass like a bug on a windshield, Domi skated right up to Joshua and began raining uppercuts and overhands, something he has done before when players target Kane. But the Hawks paid a steep price for Domi’s sacrifice: He was tagged with instigator, fighting and misconduct penalties and spent 17 minutes in the box.
“I’ll never complain when a teammate sticks up for a teammate,” Richardson said. “(Are) there little ways you can just curb that, send the message without taking yourself out of the game for 17 minutes? Because we missed him for a long time and were short-staffed up front.”
Richardson said there are other ways to send a message to protect a teammate “but keep yourself in the game. We don’t want to lose you.”
Stat of the game
34 fewer shots. To give some context to how lopsided Tuesday’s game was, the shot differential was 34 in favor of the Canucks. The Hawks’ greatest shot deficit since the NHL started keeping track of that statistic in 1959-1960 is 37, which happened twice: Feb. 21, 1976, against the Pittsburgh Penguins and April 5, 2007, against the Detroit Red Wings.
And those are just the shots on goal, not ones missed or wide of the net. The Canucks had a staggering 80 shot attempts compared with 34 by the Hawks.
Tyler Johnson was placed on injured reserve after he aggravated his left ankle sprain against the Kings on Sunday.
Where they stand
The Hawks dropped to 14-28-4, below the Anaheim Ducks (14-29-5) but above the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets (14-30-3).
The Hawks didn’t practice Wednesday and play the Flames on Thursday in the second of a three-game trip before a nine-day break that includes the All-Star Game.