The penalty kill continues to handcuff the Chicago Blackhawks as they gave up a pair of power play goals in a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. If the Hawks are going to figure out their issues while shorthanded, that didn’t happen in this game.
Starting with some better news, Tyler Motte scored his first ever NHL goal in the second period, and Richard Panik tallied his fifth goal of the season in the losing effort. While the Hawks were able to send 34 shots on net during the game, Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky held strong late in the game to secure the first victory of the season for the Blue Jackets.
The Hawks made a late push with a 6-on-4 advantage thanks to a power play and pulling Corey Crawford, but they never got closer than a Brent Seabrook shot that deflected off the post. In a tight game, those successes and failures on special teams made the difference.
Penalty killing was a major problem entering Friday, and the Hawks did little to change that. Chicago is now 8 of 19 in penalties killed (42.1%) this season, which is easily worst in the league.
One stat that has contributed to the penalty kill struggles has been blocked shots, as the Hawks only blocked nine shots in this contest. That’s never been a huge part of Chicago’s game, but it’s still necessary to take away key shot angles and prevent rebounds.
Another area that the Hawks have struggled in is faceoffs, and Friday’s game was no different as Columbus won the faceoff battle, 31-27.
A few bright spots were Motte’s first career goal in the National Hockey League and the play of Corey Crawford, who can’t really be blamed for the team’s PK issues. Crawford made several huge stops on former Blackhawk Brandon Saad, who piled on shots throughout the night.
Motte, meanwhile, followed up on a rebound during a Jonathan Toews rush, tallying a goal to tie the game 1-1 early in the second period. While it was Motte’s only shot on goal, it was a big one nonetheless.
Beyond the loss on the ice, the team also lost defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who suffered an apparent right arm injury in the game. His status going forward is unclear, although the Hawks’ situation with eight defensemen may be sorted out for the time being.
The Blackhawks look to kick-start a new winning streak Saturday, as the Toronto Maple Leafs come to the United Center at 6 p.m. CT.