Blackhawks hit new low in 5-2 loss to Canucks

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Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (88) falls to the ice as Kane and Vancouver Canucks' Sam Gagner chase a loose puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 22, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

by Scott King

After the Blackhawks were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the first time in 10 years on Tuesday after losing to the Colorado Avalanche 5-1, it was hard to imagine things could get any worse.

Enter the bottom feeders of the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver hold the worst record in the West and the second worst league-wide heading into Chicago on Thursday.

Alexander Edler scored at 7:11 into the game to give the Canucks an early lead.

Brent Seabrook let one rip from the top of the right circle at 8:01. Nick Schmaltz got a piece of it, his 21st goal of the year, and the game was tied 1-1.

Henrik Sedin scored late in the first to give Vancouver the lead.

New Hawks forward Andreas Martinsen fought Derrick Pouliot at 2:32 in the second period after dishing out a big hit and having to answer for it. The big, fiesty winger logged 118 games in the NHL between the Colorado Avalanche and Montreal Canadiens before playing with the Rockford IceHogs earlier this season. Thursday night was his second game with Chicago.

The Blackhawks got a two-minute power play following the scrap as Poiliot was tagged with an “instigation” penalty.

“That’ my game and that’s how I have to play if I want to stay in the lineup and stay in this league,” Martinsen said. “That’s what I’m here to prove, that I can be a part of a team in this league.”

The Hawks failed to muster up momentum from the fight or the power play and the Canucks soon added another tally, this time from Bo Horvat, to extend their lead by two goals.

“You’re not going to score on every power play,” Martinsen said. “If you’re not scoring, hopefully at least you get some chances and you get some momentum. They were kind of lucky, we had a couple really good chances there I thought and we just couldn’t get it in and they score one right after. That’s how it is sometimes and not much you can do about that.”

It didn’t help that the Blackhawks were without captain Jonathan Toews, who’s been hot offensively of late, and whose defense contributions never really dipped off. Toews missed Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury and is expected to miss a couple more.

Vancouver would add another goal in the second period, Edler again, and one in the third, scored by Brandon Sutter. Matthew Highmore scored for Chicago a little over three minutes before the night mercifully ended and the Hawks lost 5-2. It was the fifth straight game the Blackhawks have given up five goals or more.

“It’s something we’re working on,” Schmaltz said. “We talk about it every day, where we’re trying to limit the other team’s chances, chances against.

“Whether we’re not coming back hard enough or turning pucks over at the blueline, I think we can do a better job of that. Minimizing those odd-man rushes will definitely help us.”

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