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Blackhawks Once Again Fail to Clinch Playoff Berth in Loss

Hawks fail for second straight night to seal playoff berth

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    OTTAWA, CANADA - MARCH 28: Marian Hossa #81of the Chicago Blackhawks fires a shot against Marc Methot #3 of the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on March 28, 2014 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

    For the third straight game, the Chicago Blackhawks had a chance to wrap up a playoff berth, and for the third straight game, they failed to do so as they fell 5-3 to the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. 

    Craig Anderson made 46 saves for the Senators in the winning effort. Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp all picked up goals for the Hawks as they dropped their second consecutive game. 

    The Blackhawks dominated the possession game in the early stages, with several great chances coming as a result. Kris Versteeg made a really nice play to chase down the puck in the corner of the zone, and he ended up dishing a great pass to Brent Seabrook between the dots. Seabrook’s shot ended up being gloved down by Craig Anderson to keep the game scoreless.

    The chances kept coming for the Blackhawks in the middle stages of the period, and they had several more great chances to score. Nick Leddy blasted a shot from the point, but Anderson pushed it away. Then Sharp picked up a rebound and fired another shot from the slot, but this one was swallowed up by the former Hawks goaltender. Finally, Jonathan Toews got another chance on a rebound off of netfront traffic, but the captain barely whiffed on the shot as the chance passed by.

    The Blackhawks got a power play a few minutes later, but it was the Senators who ultimately cashed in. Duncan Keith ended up turning the puck over in the offensive zone, and Zack Smith pushed a pass over to Erik Condra. Condra then turned Brandon Saad inside out with a deke, and beat Raanta to the far post for the short-handed goal and a 1-0 Senators lead.

    With about 30 seconds remaining in the period, it was the Senators who scored again. After a nice possession in the Hawks’ zone, Clarke MacArthur found Cody Ceci out at the point. The defenseman’s shot ended up deflecting off of Matt Carey’s stick, and it evaded Raanta to the right post as Ottawa extended their lead to two goals late in the frame.

    As the second period got underway, the Senators picked up right where they left off and scored again. Niklas Hjalmarsson cut to the middle of the ice to defend Jason Spezza, but he didn’t get close enough as Spezza had enough room to push a pass over to Milan Michalek. Michalek then made a quick deke and flipped a shot past Raanta to give Ottawa a 3-0 lead just 23 seconds into the frame.

    After yet another wasted power play, the Blackhawks finally began to get some chances. First Brandon Bollig was stopped on an in-close shot by Anderson. Then Marcus Kruger fired a snapshot from the slot that was also stopped. Finally, Toews had another good chance from the face-off circle, but it hit traffic in front and bounced away.

    The onslaught for the Hawks continued when Sharp collected a stretch pass from Seabrook, and even though the Hawks’ sniper didn’t score, he did draw a penalty. After Shaw was denied on a redirected chance on the ensuing power play, Chicago finally got on the board. On the rush, Sharp found Toews with a pass, and the captain quickly passed the puck back. Sharp directed a one-timer in past Anderson to make it a 3-1 game about halfway through the second period.

    The great chances continued for the Hawks throughout the later stages of the period. Shaw picked up a rebound in front of the net and was stopped by a great pad save by Anderson. A few moments later, Keith blasted a shot from the top of the point that ended up just wide of the net. Finally, Kris Versteeg came in on a 2-on-1 rush with Toews, but his shot ended up ringing loudly off the crossbar to keep the Hawks down by two goals.

    The Senators nearly escaped the second period with a two goal lead intact, but a great defensive play by Hossa changed that. Marc Methot tried to backhand a pass across the zone to a teammate, but Hossa read it perfectly, and after weaving in between two defenders, he deked past Anderson and tucked a shot just past the goaltender’s left skate to make it a 3-2 game with just 41 seconds remaining in the period.

    The momentum that the Blackhawks seemed to gain throughout the second period was absent as they headed back onto the ice for the third, and the Senators really took control of the pace of the game. Raanta had to make several big saves, including one on Kyle Turris after the forward stole the puck from Michal Handzus in the corner.

    A few minutes later, Carey picked up an undisciplined penalty in the face-off circle, and the Senators scored on the ensuing power play. After a shot got to the front of the net, MacArthur had a wide open net, but his shot was stopped by Keith. No one picked up Turris however, and he drove into the play and popped the rebound into the empty cage to make it a 4-2 game.

    The Senators weren’t done yet, and they extended their lead out to three goals. This time, it was MacArthur doing the honors, blowing by Handzus and then slicing between Keith and Seabrook before beating Raanta with a nifty move to give Ottawa a 5-2 lead.

    There were some late shenanigans in the game as both teams committed some really undisciplined penalties. The lowlight of the closing minutes was a spearing penalty issued to Andrew Shaw, who got a five minute major for the infraction and ensured that his team would finish off the game short-handed.

    The Blackhawks did get a short-handed goal with about three minutes remaining in the game to make things interesting. Seabrook fired a shot from the slot, and even though Anderson got a big piece of it, it still trickled in off of the goaltender’s right pad to make it a 5-3 contest. 

    Sharp had one last chance in the closing seconds of the game, but he was hauled down on a breakaway attempt and no penalty shot was awarded.