Blackhawks Lose Two Straight In Regulation Before Break

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CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 27: Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets is pressured by Brent Seabrook #7 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on December 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Jets defeated the Blackhawks 3-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

by Scott King

Scott Darling got the start over Corey Crawford for the Hawks Thursday at home vs. the Winnipeg Jets. Tuesday the Blackhawks lost in regulation after leading in the first two periods for the first time since before the 2014-2015 season to the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-5. The Hawks were 78-0-5 when leading after two periods before Tuesday night (16-0-1 this season).

Darling would be tested early in Thursday’s contest. The Jets managed to put two past the Lemont native in the first period just 42 seconds apart for a 2-0 lead.

Duncan Keith would launch the Blackhawks’ temporary resurgence with a power play goal at 13:07 into the first period. The goal ended a six-game drought on the man advantage in which the Hawks failed to capitalize on 12 straight power plays.

Hawks rookie Nick Schmaltz scored the game-tying goal at the four minute mark in the second period to make it 2-2. Later in the period, Patrick Kane would assist Tanner Kero on a goal after serving a hooking penalty.

After staying on the ice out of the box, Kane set Kero up with a slick give-and-go at 16:37 into the second period.

“I kind of felt him come behind me,” said Hawks forward Tanner Kero. “It was a good play by TVR to chip that puck off the wall. Then just kind of looked and moved it to [Kane]. Yeah, he just gave it right back, right away. So it was kind of just a quick reaction.”

Jets forward Andrew Copp scored at 15:57 in the third to tie the game 3-3. Then winger Bryan Little scored 32 seconds later to give Winnipeg the lead late in the third period.

Mark Scheifle scored on an empty Hawks net to make it 5-3 in favor of the Jets.

The Blackhawks lost to the Jets 5-3 despite outshooting them 40-31. It was the fourth straight loss to Winnipeg this season. It was also the second straight game they lost in regulation after leading for the first two periods.

“It’s tough,” Kero said. “You never want to go down 2-0 like that, but [we] fought our way back and had the lead there. It’s tough to give that up.”

“I thought we had good control of the game,” Duncan Keith said. “They were getting some chances, but I thought we were playing well. Just two sets of two quick goals, it totally changed the game.

“It’s just disappointing, obviously. I Thought we were doing a lot of good things, and then two quick goals and it’s game over.”

The Hawks goaltender chimed in on what he saw go wrong from his end.

“You really want to start out with a great shift after you give up a goal,” Darling said. “I can tell you what happened from the faceoff to when it came down and the scoring chance, but both the goals were just unfortunate bounces off players and I don’t really know what to say about those.”

The Hawks will be on break for this weekend’s NHL All-Star game before taking on the Sharks January 31st in San Jose.

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