Blackhawks still not backing up their backup
by Scott King
Backup goaltender Anton Forsberg was in net for the second straight game in two nights for the Blackhawks after starting goalie Corey Crawford was placed on IR Friday with a lower body injury.
Forsberg made 33 saves in Saturday’s shootout loss to the Dallas Stars.
The backup logged a record of 1-2-3, a .910 save percentage and a 3.34 goals against average for the season prior to Sunday night’s tilt vs. the LA Kings.
All three of Forsberg’s overtime losses were games in which he battled to give Chicago a chance to win, but they couldn’t deliver, a tough break for a goalie trying to prove they’re a dependable backup for a storied franchise.
Chicago would be facing an LA Kings team sitting on the first place throne of the Pacific Division and goaltender Jonathan Quick, who was riding a three-game winning streak.
Sunday night was the Blackhawks’ sixth game in nine days, and their second of back-to-back contests after a home-and-home split with the Dallas Stars that resulted in an overtime loss on Thursday and a shootout loss on Saturday. They played a lot of hockey in a short period of time and it showed in the first period.
The Hawks only registered three shots on net and squandered two plus power plays in the first. As is often the case, there was too much passing and too little shooting with the man advantage.
It was so obvious that the entire United Center was yelling “Shoot!” during the Hawks third power play of the period until the period expired… And it actually appeared that the team was listening as they fired the puck as the chants rang out.
The Hawks picked up the pace in the second period, putting an additional 15 shots on net.
Christian Folin broke the tie for the Kings near the midway point of the third period to give LA a 1-0 lead. Forsberg was screened by Anze Kopitar on the play.
The Kings would go on to score two empty-net goals and hand the Hawks a tough 3-1 loss. It was another loss in which Forsberg kept the Blachawks in the game – stopping 21 of 22 Kings’ shots – but they couldn’t return the favor by scoring.
“He’s been good for us,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “Especially in back-to-backs, where he picks up behind Crow’ (Corey Crawford) and [we] just can’t seem to get him some offense, give him a little padding, give him a little breathing room.
“He’s doing everything we need him to do in there, and we just need to support him and create some offense, find some ways to get some wins for him.”
The frustration and disappointment were visible on Forsberg’s face in the Hawks’ dressing room after the loss.
“It’s a little frustrating, not getting the win,” Forsberg said. “But I can’t do [anything] else, just keep playing the way I’ve been [playing] and focus on my game.”
Coach Q also noted it’s time the Hawks backup Forsberg after the game.
“It’d be nice to give him some run support,” Quenneville said.
The Blackhawks were 0-for-4 on the power play Sunday night and are 1-for- their last 17 in the past four games.
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