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THREE THINGS: Rough Night, Still Streaking and Open Spaces

Three takeaways from Chicago's 7-3 loss to Colorado on Saturday night

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

The Blackhawks were left feeling pretty low in the Mile High City.

The Avalanche reeled off seven consecutive goals during a 7-3 rout of the Blackhawks on Saturday night in Denver.

Playing without two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith due to a groin injury, the Blackhawks couldn't hold back an offensive onslaught by the Avalanche, led by Joonas Donskoi's two goals and two assists, Nazem Kadri's two goals, Mikko Rantenen's goal and three assists and Nathan MacKinnon's goal and two helpers.

Phillip Grubauer was the beneficiary of the Avalanche's outburst to earn the victory in goal while Robin Lehner suffered the loss for the Blackhawks. Lehner allowed five goals on 14 Avalanche shots before being replaced by Corey Crawford.

Brandon Saad, Dominik Kubalik and Patrick Kane scored for the Blackhawks, who fell to the Avalanche for the second consecutive day and now stand at 10-11-5 on the season.

"There were periods of both games where we were fine and there were periods of both games where we were nowhere near the level we need to have to have success against good teams," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters after the game. "As a group we have to commit to doing it every single shift. We're never going to be perfect. Not every shift is going to be perfect but the intentions have to be perfect and I don't think we can say that."

Video: CHI Recap: Kane extends point streak in loss to Avs

Here are three takeways from the Blackhawks' loss: 


ROUGH NIGHT

Lehner was pulled from the game by Colliton after the veteran allowed Rantanen's goal that gave the Avalanche a 5-1 lead early in the second.

As he left the ice and headed toward the dressing room, Lehner appeared to yell something at his Blackhawks teammates on the bench.

"I probably did," Lehner told reporters after the game. "And it was probably rightfully so. It's nothing personal. We really like each other in here. I think all the guys care about each other - it's a good group. It was 5-1 five minutes into the second and we're not playing good enough. I don't know exactly what I said, I probably said that we have to wake up. I think my track record speaks for itself. It's nothing directed to any person or anyone or not toward myself.

"It's embarrassing - we have to turn it around," Lehner continued. "We have to wake up. I hate losing. I think a lot of us don't like losing. It's nothing wrong to hold each other accountable. It's nothing personal. It's not a bad thing." 


STILL STREAKING

Kane extended his point streak to 15 games with a power-play goal in the third period. The winger's 14th goal of the season gave him 24 points (11G, 13A) in November, a career high for points in a calendar month - but Kane believes he can play better.

"I wasn't very good (Saturday night)," Kane told reporters. "I have to be better going into the next game. Obviously, (it's) a huge game against St. Louis coming up at home (Monday night). The Stanley Cup champs are coming into our building so I have to be better for us."

Kane was asked what he can improve upon.

"I think just getting the puck more is probably the biggest thing for me," Kane said. "Trying to find a way to get it and make play from there. Even when we get in our end be better … and make sure you're doing the little things to either set an example for the other guys or just help the team in general."


OPEN SPACES

One of the few bright spots for the Blackhawks was Kubalik's sixth goal of the season and first since Nov. 16. The winger found some open ice after David Kampf took a hit to make a play and Kubalik slid the puck between Grubauer's pads midway through the second period to make it 7-2 Avs.

Other than two seasons in the OHL, Kubalik has spent much of his career playing in Europe where there is plenty of room to roam on the ice and he said that every game he plays in the NHL makes him that much more comfortable playing on the smaller North American ice surfaces.

"Every single game I'm still getting more and more confident with the league and the smaller ice," said Kubalik, whose six goals are tied for third-most by NHL rookies this season.

The 24-year-old said it can be "a little bit difficult" to find the kind of time and space he'd like to unleash his lethal shot but the smaller surface does have its advantages.

"With the smaller ice you're always in a good position to shoot," Kubalik said. "Obviously, not from the blue line, but all around there are good angles to shoot so I like it."

Kubalik said the other big aspect of the game with which he has had to adjust in his first season in the NHL is the schedule.

"There are lots of games - more games than in Europe," Kubalik said. "I used to be able to do more stuff in the gym. You just need to take care of your body and be ready always."

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