Two straight overtime losses, including a controversial finish in Thursday’s defeat to the Boston Bruins, left the playoff-hopeful Chicago Blackhawks with two points out of a possible four.
That certainly counts for something, though, as Chicago chases a Western Conference wild-card spot. That’s how the Blackhawks are choosing to view things entering Sunday’s visit to the Winnipeg Jets.
Dwelling on what might have been can be a dangerous proposition, and a path on which the team doesn’t wish to travel as it opens a five-game road trip through western Canada.
“Don’t want to look into games in the future and say that those are ones we gave away that could have been the ones that could have helped,” defenseman Connor Murphy said. “So, you just bring your best every game. That’s all you can do.”
Chicago took an apparent 2-1 lead with 1:05 to go in the third period Thursday, but Drake Caggiula’s goal was waved off after an official whistled a stoppage in play. The Bruins responded with Charlie McAvoy’s uncontested game-winning goal at 1:19 of overtime.
The OT loss notwithstanding, Chicago is 12-5-2 over its past 19 games. The Blackhawks began the weekend within seven points or fewer of each of the foes on the trip — Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
“I look at it as a fun situation to be in,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We’re going on the road, and all five of the games are huge. And as players and coaches, the team, we want to be in that situation, you want to be in those games. … It’s exciting because we’re in a position to play important, big games, and that’s what you want.
“What we need to do on this trip is play well, have good performances so we get the points we need to stay in the race and hopefully raise our nose above the crowd.”
Winnipeg will host Chicago in the first and final games of the Blackhawks’ trip. The Jets have won three of four on the heels of a five-game losing streak.
Winnipeg opened a six-game homestand with a 5-2 victory against Ottawa in a Saturday matinee. Patrik Laine registered his first hat trick of the season, striking each time on the power play to reach 23 goals and 51 points in 53 games played.
Laine’s first two goals game away from his usual power-play perch, the one-timer spot.
“Just try to change it up a little bit, go to different spots and maybe get those kinds of dirty goals and tips, that kind of stuff,” Laine said. “So that was a good day.”
Goaltender Laurent Brossoit stopped 25 shots to earn his first win since Dec. 10. Kyle Connor tallied a goal and three assists.
Blackhawks center Kirby Dach enters play on a season-high five-game point streak, collecting one goal and five assists during that span.
Rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist was a full participant in practice Saturday and will travel with the team after leaving Thursday’s game with a right shoulder injury after being boarded by the Boston’s David Krejci.
Winnipeg has lost two of the teams’ three meetings this season, but won one in overtime. The teams are set to face off twice more between Sunday and Feb. 16 to conclude the season series.
–Field Level Media