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updated: 3/15/2014 12:32 AM

Quenneville losing patience with slow-starting Hawks

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  • Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, top, talks to his team during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators in Chicago, Friday, March 14, 2014. The Predators won 3-2.

      Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, top, talks to his team during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators in Chicago, Friday, March 14, 2014. The Predators won 3-2.
    Associated Press

  • Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) celebrates with Mike Fisher (12) after they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 during an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Friday, March 14, 2014.

      Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) celebrates with Mike Fisher (12) after they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 during an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Friday, March 14, 2014.
    Associated Press

 
 

A Lee Elia moment it wasn't, thanks in part to a malfunctioning microphone, but even while speaking in hushed tones late Friday night, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville let it be known -- loud and clear -- that he is not a happy camper.

A 3-2 home loss to a middling Nashville team will do that to a coach.

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So will a 10-8-7 record since the start of the new year.

But especially galling of late has been the play of the defending champs early on in games -- and Friday's was no different -- as they watched the offensively-challenged Predators jump out to a 2-0 lead late in the first period.

"The first five to ten minutes weren't bad, but it was tough to watch the last part of the first period," Quenneville said. "That was as bad as we've probably played for any stretch all year."

Jonathan Toews scored in the final seconds of the opening period to cut Nashville's lead in half, and Peter Regin scored midway thorugh the third, but it was too little, too late, thanks in part to the dagger provided by Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis.

With the Hawks a goal down and a man up for the opening seconds of the third period, it was looking like the momentum might be changing.

But the Preds killed the penalty and Ellis, fresh out of the box, took a perfect pass from Roaman Jose, and skated in alone to beat Corey Crawford with the eventual game-winner.

"In that second period we were better," Quenneville said. "And the last 10 minutes we were fine, but I'm not happy with our game."

He's not alone.

"It's just another case of us finally playing the way we can, the way we're supposed to, but it's just too late again," said Toews, whose goal Friday was the seventh in his last six games.

"We're putting ourselves in tough situations by not starting well and just getting away from our team game, so not much of an explanation, but we know we need better right now.

"We need to get out of this kind of trend that we're in right now."

It was the Hawks' fifth loss in their last eight games.

"We didn't have a very good start, but as the game went on we had our chances," said Kris Versteeg, who assisted on Toews' goal. "For the second two periods we were good, but that lull in the first period obviously hurt us.

"Nashville is a good team and they play hard. You can't take them lightly, but it kind of looked like in the first period that was the problem."

Just part of the problem, as far as Quenneville is concerned.

"The pace of our game and the intelligence of our game were non-existent in our last two games," said Quenneville, who surprised some by scheduling a practice this morning immediately after Friday's loss.

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