Blackhawks lose fourth straight, but go down swinging vs. Flames

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Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brandon Manning, left, and Calgary Flames right wing Garnet Hathaway fight during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Chicago. The Flames won 3-2. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

by Scott King

The Blackhawks may have dropped their fourth straight game on Sunday against the visiting Calgary Flames in a 2-3 loss, and 15 out of the past 18 games, to fall to a record of 9-14-5, but for the first time in a long time, there were signs of hope.

For one, the Hawks ended a six-game streak of allowing at least four goals. Another positive, they pulled within one of the Pacific division’s first place Flames. As usual, it was in big part due to Corey Crawford keeping the team in the game when facing a lot of shots. He made 38 saves on Sunday.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who tied the game 1-1 off a speedy breakaway in the first period, feels the team is turning a corner.

“Yeah, that’s our belief,” Toews said. “I think look at the Winnipeg game and there were a couple games lately where we’re getting scoring from across our lineup and guys are doing a lot of good things.

“So, yeah, it’s unfortunate when you get contributions from a bunch of different guys and guys are feeling good. It would be nice to find a way to get two points when you get those contributions, but that’s the way it’s going lately.”

Recently acquired center Dylan Strome scored his second goal with Chicago on Sunday on a power play off a backhand.

“I think it’s not easy,” Strome said of shaking the Hawk’s current slump. “We just gotta find a way to break out of it. Thought we played a pretty good game tonight, actually.

“Didn’t have the best first period but we held in there and Corey was unreal for us in the beginning and throughout the whole game obviously, but in the beginning I think he made 15-16 saves in the first period, so that was obviously important for us to get out of there with a 1-1 tie. We were the better team for the last two periods, but they got the two points. Gotta find a way to break out of it and get the win here.”

After being able to skate for most of the game against a hot team in the Flames, and keeping things close (and under four goals), maybe Chicago can zero in on ending another dooming streak: allowing the first goal of the game in seven straight.

“I thought tonight was better,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “So we have to tell the truth about that. Regardless of the results, we don’t control the results, we control our performance, so let’s start playing better and then those things will take care of [themselves]. So that’s what we’ll deal with and we’ll give the guys some feedback and we’ll go from there.”

Aside from their improved upon play with the puck, it was refreshing to see some Hawks respond physically and stand up for each other for the second-straight game.

On Saturday in Nashville, Duncan Keith and Alex Debrincat dropped the gloves against the Predators. On Sunday it was Brendan Manning vs. Garnet Hathaway. Jan Rutta held James Neal to the ice after Neal fell over Crawford, sparking a chain reaction of Rasmus Andersson going after Patrick Kane and Crawford grabbing him to put an end to it.

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