VANCOUVER - The Chicago Blackhawks are still looking for consistency a quarter of the way into their season.
The Blackhawks left Vancouver with a 4-1 loss on Sunday night as players and coaches said the team needs to find its rhythm moving forward. Chicago is 6-4 in its last 10 games and has won four out of its last five, with 11 goals scored and four allowed against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
"We feel we can get to another level and we have shown it in spurts," said forward Patrick Kane, who was held pointless by the Canucks. "(We) just got to have that consistency to be a little bit better."
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was quick to point out that a handful of wins glossed over fundamental issues in what was actually a lacklustre start to Chicago's season.
"We might've won some games early on but we didn't play very well," he said following the loss to the Canucks, adding that he believes the Blackhawks have only recently begun to find their feet and settle. "Tonight we didn't have much puck support or pace to our game."
Chicago's season has been mired in little setbacks with the team not winning more than two games in a row until Saturday when the Blackhawks earned their third straight victory with a 7-1 rout of the Edmonton Oilers. Chicago has also dropped key games against Central Division rivals St. Louis, Nashville and Winnipeg.
One issue has been scoring, although Kane came into Sunday's game in Vancouver on a four-game goal streak. He also leads the team in points this month, edging out Jonathan Toews by an assist.
Kris Versteeg scored the team's only goal on Sunday, capitalizing on the power play midway through the second period after the Canucks' Derek Dorsett was sent to the box for slashing. The Blackhawks power-play unit, which is ranked 14th in the league, went to work.
Brent Seabrook's pass found Duncan Keith standing at the point. His shot was tipped in front by Versteeg past Canucks goalie Ryan Miller for his fourth goal in seven games. After registering 11 shots in the first period, the Blackhawks faded, getting only six and eight on net the following periods.
"It was high paced. We just didn't take control of the game. I think we let them move the puck side to side across the ice and get their rush game going a little too easy," said Toews, who finished minus-four and was one of six Chicago players to not get any shots on goal. "Pucks were just going through us everywhere. We weren't checking well. We made their puck possession game really easy."
The Canucks kept Corey Crawford on his toes throughout the game peppering him with 29 shots. The Blackhawks high-scoring offence showed flashes of brilliance with two short-handed opportunities in the first period stretching the Canucks defence.
But as the game wore on, Chicago eased up on Vancouver.
"It was one of these games that you got to find a way to get something in the third period going," said Quenneville.
The Blackhawks are next in action on Nov. 26 against Central Division rivals the Colorado Avalanche, who have lost six of their last 10.