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Wednesday, November 25

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Blackhawks Mon Apr 04 2011

Hawks Struggle Through Ugly Weekend

toews stare.PNG

Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks are looking at a tough stretch run / Tribune photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo

Sunday night's 2-0 Blackhawks' loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up a weekend of ugly Chicago hockey that may leave their playoff fate in the hands of their Western Conference rivals.

After Friday's 4-3 shootout win at Columbus, a huge victory wasn't expected Sunday night. The Hawks' numbers far outshined the Blue Jackets' going in, but they played down to their level, unable to clinch a victory in regulation time. Sloppy penalties didn't help, with a combined total of 16 minutes spent in the box.

If viewers felt a sense of déjà vu during Sunday's game, it's because referees' whistles once again haunted the team.

The Hawks outshot the Lightning 31-15, but couldn't manage to get the puck in the net, trailing 1-0 for most of the game before a last-minute empty-netter. Bad penalties again didn't help the team, with the Lightning scoring just seconds into a first-period power play caused by a questionable delay of game penalty on Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson spent two minutes in the box for the same call Friday.

Chicago came out slow Sunday but had plenty of chances in the final two periods. Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith played above and beyond expectations in the last 40 minutes of the game, where the majority of Chicago shots were taken.

After the Tampa Bay loss, the Hawks have four more games left in the regular season. Eyes will be glued to the Western Conference standings as they shift daily, with the eighth-ranked Hawks likely walking the cutoff line throughout the week.

The team faces Montreal on Tuesday. This is the first and only time the two teams meet this season.

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