New coach, same result: Hawks drop 4-3 loss to Carolina in Colliton's debut
New coach, same result.
At least on Day One of the Jeremy Colliton era.
A tentative bunch of Blackhawks paid dearly for every miscue and dropped a 4-3 decision to Carolina in Colliton's NHL coaching debut at the United Center on Thursday.
The opportunistic Hurricanes -- 2-7-1 in their last 10 and losers of five straight coming in -- took a 4-0 lead in the first 21:20, then staved off a furious rally as the Hawks got goals from Patrick Kane, David Kampf and Nick Schmaltz.
A miracle comeback almost seemed inevitable, but Scott Darling made several impressive saves down the stretch -- including one on an Artem Anisimov stuff attempt with 1:07 left -- and the Hawks dropped their sixth straight to fall to 6-7-3.
"We definitely got better as the game went on -- no doubt about that," Colliton said.
The problem was they looked awful early on, losing track of assignments, losing puck battles and not reacting quickly enough to the attacking Hurricanes.
Schmaltz admitted the sloppiness could have been due to overthinking a few new things thrown the Hawks' way.
"You can't be tentative out there," Schmaltz said. "They jumped on us right away. We weren't playing as hard as we wanted to be and a good team like that, they're going to make you pay in the 'D' zone when you turn pucks over."
Andrei Svechnikov opened the scoring 4:46 into the game when he backhanded a rebound past Corey Crawford. The scoring chance began when Jan Rutta lost the puck behind the net.
Jacob Slavin made it 2-0 on a power-play goal less than five minutes later, and the Hawks fell into a 3-0 hole on a Phillip Di Giuseppe tally at 15:53. Erik Gustafsson, Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov all got caught up playing a puck along the side boards and there was nobody around to stop a Justin Faulk-to-Justin Williams-to Di Giuseppe passing play that turned into an easy goal.
Moments later, the Hawks limped into the locker room after a demoralizing first period.
Colliton's message was simple: "First of all, stick together," he said. "We have to stick together. It's important. We've got to believe in what we're doing."
Said Kane: "Seemed like he had a powerful message between the first and second, just to clean up some things and have a better response. … For his first game, he was a good presence behind the bench."
Kampf tipped home a Brandon Saad shot at 10:53 of the second, and Schmaltz ripped home his second goal of the season at 3:33 of the third.
As the Hawks made a frantic final push, Jonathan Toews caught a stick to the face behind the Hurricanes net. Toews needed stitches, but Colliton said he should be fine.
And the Hawks? Colliton is confident the wounds of the past two weeks will eventually heal themselves.
"We had our pressure moments and when we scored the third goal it looked like we were close to really turning the game," Colliton said. "We had some really good chances. Obviously we just couldn't convert and maybe we would've liked to generate a little more at the end.
"But overall at least it was a good response."