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updated: 3/15/2010 6:49 AM

High-scoring Caps make Hawks look defenseless

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  • Trainers tend to Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell after he was drilled into the boards during the first period.

      Trainers tend to Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell after he was drilled into the boards during the first period.
    Associated Press

 
 

If the playoffs started today, well, let's just say for the Blackhawks' sake it's a good thing they don't.

After months of mostly smooth sailing, the Hawks suddenly have issues beyond inconsistent goaltending.

For the second game in a row Sunday, the Hawks blew a third-period lead in a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals in overtime at the United Center.

The latest defensive debacle came less than 24 hours after the Hawks gave up 2 goals in the final 2:04 in a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia.

The Hawks have lost four of seven games since the Olympic break and no longer look like the dominant team that raced to the top of the NHL standings.

"If we play like this in the playoffs we're probably going to be out after a couple games," Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said.

"We're not playing at a playoff level right now," defenseman Duncan Keith added.

Further complicating matters for the Hawks, defenseman Brian Campbell suffered a broken collarbone in the first period when he was shoved into the end boards from behind by Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.

Campbell, the Hawks' sixth-leading scorer and a plus-18 defensively, likely will miss at least the rest of the regular season, according to a source.

Even with the dynamic Ovechkin tossed from the game 12:16 into the opening period for that hit on Campbell, the Hawks couldn't hold on for the victory after going up 3-0.

"It's a frustrating weekend considering we got 1 point instead of 4," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "But we've only got ourselves to blame. You can go on with all the clichés, but we've got to take responsibility for it and try to be better coming out of this experience."

Toews scored twice in the first period and John Madden early in the second to give the Hawks a 3-goal lead against Ovechkin-less Caps.

But Hawks penalties gave the Capitals life in the third period when they scored 3 goals in a span of 2:16 in the first eight minutes.

The Hawks were outshot 11-1 in the third period and eventually lost when Nicklas Backstrom scored 3:10 into overtime on a shot through goalie Antti Niemi after he went around Brent Seabrook.

"It's just playing with the lead, it doesn't matter what period it is; they're all the same to me," Toews said. "I don't know if we get a little too comfortable, but it's not just a few guys, it's our entire team.

"It's our power play going out there and not producing and not bearing down. We've got as much skill as any team in the league and there's no reason being up 3-0 why we can't finish that game off. It's just little things we just need to sharpen up on."

The Hawks were up by 3 when Jordan Hendry took a double minor penalty for high sticking at 3:51 of the third period. Just as Alex Semin scored on the power play, Colin Fraser took another penalty for high sticking.

The Hawks killed the full two minutes of the Capitals' 5-on-3 power play thanks to some great stops by Niemi, but Backstrom got a goal 13 seconds after the two-man advantage expired.

"Two kind-of-careless high sticks and you lose a lot of momentum in the game," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the penalties by Hendry and Fraser.

Just 13 seconds after Backstrom's goal, Eric Fehr was somehow left all alone in the slot to beat Niemi and tie the game.

"I don't think we managed the puck well and gave up too many quality opportunities off the rush," Quenneville said. "We know we can score, it's about playing defense.

"Today against a top team that can score and is dangerous, that was a good challenge for us and we didn't get it done."

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