The Olympic break can't get here soon enough for the Blackhawks.
Unfortunately for them, they have a six-game road trip staring them in the face before the NHL breaks for the Games in Sochi.
In their last game at the United Center until March 4 on Sunday night, the Hawks squandered a lead and let the Winnipeg Jets score 3 third-period goals for a 3-1 win. It was the third straight loss for the Hawks, who open their road trip Tuesday at Calgary.
This was a game that could have been over early. The Hawks had an 18-2 bulge in shots in the first period, but the difference was Jets goalie Al Montoya, the Glenview native who made 33 saves on the night.
"It's frustrating to have that lackluster effort against a team that had nothing to lose in the third period," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We played well against Anaheim and Boston, but the last three have been back to that sloppy style that we were playing before that.
"We just threw away another 2 points. I don't have an explanation without saying anything negative. We need to get rid of these bad habits and get rid of them fast."
Blake Wheeler scored 2 goals in the third period with Andrew Ladd getting what proved to be the winner after a turnover by Marian Hossa. The shot from the slot went in off Duncan Keith's shin.
Wheeler's first goal made it 1-1 and came on Winnipeg's 10th shot.
The Jets are 6-1 under new coach Paul Maurice.
"It was a lot of work," Montoya said. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy. They hadn't played in a couple of days. I knew they were going to come and I was going to have to make a couple of saves and I was going to have to get a couple bounces."
The Hawks were outshot 15-8 in the third period by a team that should have been more tired than them.
"We played the right way for 40 minutes but don't know if we got comfortable," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think the first 40 we gave up nothing. It's a tough loss for sure, for sure, for sure, for sure."
The game started as if the Hawks had something to prove.
Quenneville started his top line of Toews, Hossa and Patrick Sharp but quickly brought out the fourth line for the second shift of the game. Brandon Bollig capped a dominating shift by the fourth line by beating Montoya on a wraparound at 1:21 for a 1-0 lead.
Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith assisted on Bollig's sixth goal of the season. But that would be the extent of the Hawks' offense.
"You know, listen, we got dominated in the first period," Maurice said. "That's a tough ride to go to the West Coast and come back and play three of the top five teams in the league, and we showed it in the first period. But that win right there is just a great sign of character.
"I really can't say enough about it. That kind of character win goes a long way."
Ladd gave all the credit to Montoya.
"That win is all him," Ladd said. "He gave us a chance heading into the third. We talked about it in this room. We were only down 1. We still had a chance to win the game. We wanted to reward him for playing out of his mind in the first two periods."
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