Blackhawks start road trip on a sour note, lose 5-4 in OT - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Hawks start road trip on a sour note, lose 5-4 in OT

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

On Tuesday night the Chicago Blackhawks were fortunate they were playing Calgary, a club that couldn't find a playoff berth with a search party. If not they probably would come away without a point. As it was, the better team captured the victory as Chicago dropped a 5-4 decision in overtime.

Those who thought the Blackhawks would come out with a strong determined effort and not provide any hope for Calgary were wrong. The Flames have scored fewer goals than any team except Buffalo, but you wouldn't have known it. Calgary had a 4-2 advantage near the midpoint of the second period.

It was as if the Blackhawks were handing out odd man breaks and to make matters worse Antti Raanta wasn't very good. Fortunately for Chicago, Flames goalie Reto Berra was as bad. Neither goalkeeper finished the game, Raanta didn't make it through the second period.

For the opening 40 minutes the Blackhawks allowed the Flames to move through the neutral zones with ease. There were numerous turnovers, and generally sloppy play which included allowing a short handed goal. This was not the way Joel Quenneville wanted to begin a long and difficult road trip.

Once again the Blackhawks did not pick up a win in OT. In the 18 games that have gone to extra time the Hawks have only five wins, all coming in the shootout. Odds are those missed opportunities to pick up the extra point will come back to haunt them.

As it is now St. Louis has climbed into first place in the Central Division. The Blues like the Hawks have 77 points but they have played three fewer games.

Marian Hossa scored twice and Patrick Kane recorded a goal. The other Chicago scorer was Ben Smith as the fourth line continues to make an impact.

Brandon Pirri played 15:05 as he centered the second line. His performance was okay. Considering Pirri was out of action until last weekend, probably not much should be immediately expected. Pirri was out for a few weeks with a lower body injury, that's one reason his call-up was a bit of a surprise to me.

By being recalled again this season, Pirri losses his waiver status. That was reported by Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada. So in essence this is a big audition for Pirri.

If it is determined Pirri isn't in future plans he would likely be traded. Maybe before the deadline or possibly during the summer. Otherwise the Hawks could lose Pirri without getting any compensation because he would likely not pass through waivers next season without being claimed.

Although Pirri is still young, his time in Chicago appears to be now. Pirri has made a big enough splash in the AHL that someone would claim him. It appears safe to say Blackhawk management is well aware this is a difficult stretch in the schedule. That's probably why no matter the future waiver implications Pirri was still recalled.

The Blackhawks used to have a distinct advantage over most teams when they played 4-on-4 hockey. It is almost unreal to think they haven't won a game in OT this season. Tuesday night, Calgary dominated the extra frame outshooting the Hawks 4-0.

The good news for Blackhawk fans is they don't have much time to wait until the sting of this loss can be erased. The Vancouver Canucks are on tap Wednesday and they are another team desperate for points.

The Canucks are clinging to a playoff slot and are only 4-5-1 over their last 10 games. Vancouver was idle Tuesday but lost to Edmonton at home on Monday night. Both teams should have a lot to prove.

A similar effort as in Calgary will likely mean the Blackhawks will begin the road trip in a deep hole.

Al's Shots

The Hawks third line continues to struggle.

Andrew Shaw was back on the third line with Michal Handzus scratched and Pirri playing on the second line.

Shaw played only 11:49 and skated just four shifts in the third frame. Shaw finished a -2 on the night.

Bryan Bickell continues to have a difficult time and played only 10:01.

Bickell was a -1 and had only five shifts over the final 40 minutes.

Bickell got caught out of position on a Calgary goal. He appears to be reacting slowly but I think there is more to it.

Bickell was never a speed demon but he was fast enough for a big man. Since returning from injury, Bickell looks a step or two slower and that is a considerable difference.

Bickell has no room for error and doesn't look to be near 100 percent. I'm thinking Bickell has a knee injury that probably can't be made worse by playing, but he won't get back to 100 percent this season. It could be Bickell is headed for either a summer of rest and rehab or he may require surgery.

In my observations over the years the team with a big edge in blocked shots is the most determined and often the winner.

Tuesday night the Flames recorded 17 blocks while the Hawks had six.

I will be back Thursday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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