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Post-Game Notebook: Power Plays A Deciding Factor

by Brad Boron / Chicago Blackhawks

Head coach Joel Quenneville said before the Blackhawks’ match-up with the New York Rangers that he felt his team’s power play had lost momentum in the past few games. The Rangers’ penalty killing unit – best in the NHL – seemed to halt any energy the Hawks had left on Friday, as Chicago went 1 for 11 with the man advantage.

“Their PK is tops in the league and obviously they did a good job tonight,” said Cam Barker. “On our end, we didn’t execute as well as we wanted to and that’s the story of the game.”

“We had our chances,” said Brian Campbell. “Sometimes we’re getting shots through and sometimes we’re not. We’re not getting second and third opportunities right now. We’re struggling and it’s a bit frustrating.”

Though the Blackhawks still rank seventh in the league in power play efficiency, converting 21.5% of their opportunities this season, they have scored just three times in their last 26 opportunities (11.5%) in the past five games, including going 2 for 17 in the team's last three losses.

"You're going to have bumps along the way where your power play is not going to be productive," Quenneville said. "I don't mind when they're not productive as long as you keep the momentum in the game. That's where we've got to get better."

Quenneville has repeatedly said that 5-on-3 power play situations can decide the outcome of a game; if you score with the two-man advantage, momentum shifts decisively in your favor. The Hawks had five opportunities Friday while up two skaters and were only able to convert once -  on the Brent Seabrook goal which tied the game at 2-2 in the third period.

“I almost declined the last [5-on-3],” Quenneville said jokingly after the game. “We were fortunate to get [a point] tonight. Our power play has got to be better than that.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever had that many 5-on-3 opportunities in a game before,” said Campbell. “We didn’t put it away. We have to have that killer instinct.”

While none of the Hawks were happy with the team’s execution tonight, New York’s defense held up well against the Hawks' special teams. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 14 saves on his team’s penalty kill while allowing just one goal.

“Give [the Rangers] credit – we were bombing away,” said James Wisniewski. “Their goalie played pretty well. We didn’t bear down. I had a good six or seven shots on the power play and I couldn’t find a hole.”

The Hawks’ power play will get an opportunity to re-gain their momentum Saturday night in St. Louis; the Blues’ penalty kill currently ranks 23rd in the NHL.

"We've got a game tomorrow and we've got to be better," Quenneville said. "We're going to be smarter, too."

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