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Blackhawks know they need to be better

by Dan Rosen
BOSTON -- Monday's match in Detroit was emotional for the Chicago Blackhawks. It was intense in a way only a true rivalry can be. Various people inside Joe Louis Arena either watching the game, covering it with a notebook or playing in it said it felt like the playoffs had come to Hockeytown two weeks early.

The Blackhawks responded with a 3-2 overtime victory that coach Joel Quenneville called the "most important win we've had at any point." It doesn't seem so huge anymore.

Twenty-four hours after leaving Detroit with a monster two points the Blackhawks left Boston disgusted, dejected and perhaps on the brink of a late-season disaster.

Tim Thomas made 32 saves but only a few that were difficult in a 3-0 whitewashing of the 2010 Stanley Cup champs, who while talking a lot about desperation still haven't shown enough to prove they want the opportunity to defend their title.

With six games to play in the regular season the Hawks control their own destiny as the eighth place team in the Western Conference with a three-point cushion, but a few more games like the one they had Tuesday and chances are either Calgary or Dallas, if not both, will pass them by.

Chicago is back at it Friday in Columbus. The Hawks are 3-2 against the Blue Jackets this season and a combined 9-5-1 against their five remaining opponents, including Columbus, Tampa Bay, Montreal, St. Louis and Detroit.

However, they're just 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. They've been shut out twice and held to two or fewer games another three times.

"The standings are the standings and they're out there for everybody to see," Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell told "Everybody in our locker room sees them and knows you can't be giving up points too often. It's desperate times for us."

Although the excuses such as tired legs and a letdown in emotion were right there in front of the Blackhawks on Tuesday, they refused to go there, refused to lay the blame for their loss on what really was obvious to anyone who watched both the game in Detroit and the game in Boston.

"This is a huge game for us and to blame it on that would be embarrassing," defenseman Duncan Keith said bluntly.

Instead they blamed the loss on work ethic -- Quenneville said the Hawks just got outworked.

The Blackhawks were down 7-0 in shots less than seven minutes into the game. They needed a power play to get their first three shots on goal. Once Zdeno Chara put the Bruins on the board 12:02 into the second period, the Blackhawks looked deflated. Johnny Boychuk scored 2 minutes and 20 seconds later and the game was essentially on ice.

"In the offensive zone (the Bruins) look to blast it and on the other end they look to box you out," a clearly peeved Quenneville said. "There were some good opportunities around the net, but we weren't hungry enough and (Thomas) saw too many pucks. We didn't sniff around there long enough to get some penetration."

Maybe the best thing to come out of Tuesday's game is everybody who dressed for the Blackhawks stayed healthy. With Patrick Sharp (knee) and Dave Bolland (concussion) already out, Chicago can't afford to lose any more players.

The Blackhawks are optimistically thinking Sharp could return on April 8 when they head back to Detroit to play the front end of a season-ending home-and-home against the Red Wings. Chicago might have to win both of those games to clinch a playoff berth, but that mini series against the Red Wings seems so far away right now.

Columbus is on the schedule Friday and two premium points are there for the taking.

"It's playoff hockey for us," Keith said. "We had a big one (Monday) night and we needed an even bigger effort (Tuesday) and it didn't happen. When you don't score a goal you're not going to win.

"Obviously we're not happy with the way things went (Tuesday). It's frustrating, but we have no other choice but to move on and try to get two points in Columbus."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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