Jets take another one from Chicago Blackhawks
Sometimes hockey can be one cruel sport, and there are few -- if any -- explanations for what has transpired lately when it comes to the shellshocked Blackhawks, who were beaten by Winnipeg 5-3 on Thursday night at the United Center.
How, for instance, could the Hawks lose for a fourth straight time to a Jets team with a 23-25-4 record?
And how in the world could they lose a second straight game in which they held a lead after two periods?
And how could they possibly not once, but twice, again allow back-to-back goals in less than a minute? That's three straight games in which that has happened and six times in the last seven in which foes have scored twice in less than five minutes.
All good questions -- with no great answers -- as the Hawks hit the all-star break at 30-16-5 and 4 points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division.
"It kind of ruined the break a little bit," Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "This one's going to take awhile to swallow, the way we lost this one."
Winnipeg jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Patrik Laine (at 6:16 of the first) and Shawn Matthias (6:53), but the Hawks stormed back with goals by Duncan Keith, Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero.
Kero's goal, his fourth in eight games, made it 3-2 with 3:23 left in the second period.
As the third period wound down, it appeared the Hawks finally would vanquish the Jets, but Andrew Copp deflected a Josh Morrissey shot, sending the puck straight down and between Scott Darling's legs to make it 3-3 with 4:03 on the clock.
"Once everyone saw that one go in, you could feel the momentum switch sides," Winnipeg's Bryan Little said.
Little made it 4-3 just 34 seconds later, and it was almost a carbon copy of how Tampa Bay's Tyler Johnson scored his game-winner two nights earlier -- with a player taking a defenseman to the middle of the offensive zone and a winger coming down unimpeded to snap a shot past a Hawks goalie. This time it was Jacob Trouba who drew Hjalmarsson inside and Little who ripped the puck over Darling's left shoulder.
"Can't be happy," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "There were some positives in both games, but definitely an awful taste now."
Darling made 28 saves and suffered just his fifth regulation loss in 19 starts. The Hawks also have lost two in a row in regulation when leading after two periods after going 78-0-5 in their previous 83 games when leading after two.
The Hawks have four days off as the NHL takes its all-star break, then return to play eight of the next nine on the road.
"We've got to use these days to get away, rest our brains, rest our bodies," Darling said. "We're not too happy with the hockey we've been playing lately, so we need to recharge, pick it up and get excited to go on a big road trip."