Though the Hawks came out of the box stronger than they had in the past few games Sunday, they continued to learn that one bad period can mean the difference between the win and the loss. After keeping a scoreless tie with the Islanders throughout the first period, the Hawks committed four penalties in the second that led two Islanders power play goals, all they needed to send Chicago to their fourth loss in five games.
“We’ve got to do a better job of keeping [the number of penalties] lower,” said Brian Campbell. “The little things are adding up, and each night it’s a different area where it’s happening to us.”
The string of penalties began late in the second period, as Nikolai Khabibulin was called for a delay of game, followed by infractions by Ben Eager, Matt Walker and Cam Barker. Mark Streit and Frans Neilsen capitalized on the man advantages fpr New York, and the Hawks trailed 3-1 by the end of the second period.
“We’ve made it tough on ourselves when we haven’t come to play,” said Brent Seabrook
. “I was out there for four goals-against tonight, and I’ve got to be way better than that. It seems like we’re just not getting the bounces, but we can’t make that excuse; we have to make our own chances.”
The Hawks’ penalty kill unit has not been as effective lately as it was earlier this season. While the Hawks were once among the league’s top-ten in penalty kill percentage, they’ve now dropped into the middle of the pack (81.2 percent, good for 16th in the league).
“We’ve been trying to get the lead, but lately we’re playing catch-up,” said head coach Joel Quenneville. “They seem to be scoring on their opportunities and then we’ve got to chase the game again; it plays into their favor. We’ve been out-chancing teams and doing the right things to get the lead, but it’s not happening.”
With two tough, back-to-back road games ahead, the Hawks know that they have to rediscover their rhythm soon if they hope to keep their place in the Western Conference standings.
“We’ve got to tighten it up,” Quenneville said. “It would be nice to score first in one of these games so we don’t have to force it or let them get in their perfect defensive set. It’d be nice to play with the lead.”
“We have to pay more attention to detail,” Campbell said. “Whether it’s going to practice and working hard, watching some video or something like that, we’ve just got to keep pushing it. Guys are frustrated, and little mistakes are adding up. It’s getting later in the season and sometimes you’ve got to win tighter games; one goal either way can win a hockey game.”