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updated: 3/29/2014 12:17 AM

Questions mount after another frustrating loss

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  • Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta (31), of Finland, lies injured near his net as referee Marc Joannette looks at him during first-period NHL hockey game action against the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, March 28, 2014. Raanta stayed in the game.

      Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta (31), of Finland, lies injured near his net as referee Marc Joannette looks at him during first-period NHL hockey game action against the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, March 28, 2014. Raanta stayed in the game.
    Associated Press

  • Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta (31) lies injured inside his net as play carries on against the Ottawa Senators during first-period NHL hockey game action in Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, March 28, 2014. Senators' Ales Hemsky (83) and Blackhawks' Duncan Keith battle in front of the net.

      Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta (31) lies injured inside his net as play carries on against the Ottawa Senators during first-period NHL hockey game action in Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, March 28, 2014. Senators' Ales Hemsky (83) and Blackhawks' Duncan Keith battle in front of the net.
    Associated Press

  • The Blackhawks' Brandon Bollig (52) fights Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil (25) during first-period NHL hockey game action in Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, March 28, 2014.

      The Blackhawks' Brandon Bollig (52) fights Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil (25) during first-period NHL hockey game action in Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, March 28, 2014.
    Associated Press

 
 

There were more questions than answers following the Blackhawks' second loss in two days, this time a 5-3 decision at the hands of host Ottawa on Friday.

Among them:

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What, if any, is going to be the punishment handed down by the league to Andrew Shaw after he was whistled for spearing late in the game?

What does a guy have to suffer through in order to pick up a penalty shot? That's something Patrick Sharp has to be wondering after getting manhandled near the net in the final seconds Friday as he attempted to make it a 1-goal game.

How badly is defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson hurt after an apparent knee-on-knee collision with the Senators' Chris Neil?

But the most important question after yet another less-than-stellar effort is what's the deal with the Blackhawks lately?

"There were some good moments where we did have control of the puck and had second efforts ... but other than that there were just sloppy turnovers and sloppy mistakes that we really need to get out of our system," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews told reporters. "We have to play some character hockey.

"It's a frustrating way to lose, but we know there are a lot of little things we can tighten up on."

It was the Hawks' third loss in their last four games, and the second straight night where they failed to pick up that 1 point they needed to simply clinch a playoff spot.

"It's tough, everyone's kind of tightening up here going down the stretch getting ready for the playoffs," said Sharp, who scored the Hawks' first goal of the night and now has a career-high 72 points. "We realize we'll be better for this eventually, but now isn't the time to hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves.

"We've got to work through it and be better."

It wasn't as if the Hawks didn't attack the Senators. They did.

It was just that seemingly every time they did, Ottawa goalie and Park Ridge native Craig Anderson had an answer. Anderson turned aside 46 shots, including a key leg save on Shaw in the second, moments after Marian Hossa's highlight-reel goal had made it a 3-2 game.

"We played a perfect second period and tried to claw our way into it, but too many quality chances against," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I know we generated a ton offensively, but I didn't like what we gave up defensively more than anything tonight."

With just seven regular season games remaining and a date with Pittsburgh looming Sunday night, things seem a little daunting for the Hawks right now, but as Toews pointed out, it could be worse.

"Better now than two or three weeks from now," he said. "That's the way we're going to look at it. We know how good a team we can be. We just haven't shown it in the last couple of games."

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