Blackhawks drop game vs Rangers in regulation, 3-2

Early in the season, the Blackhawks picked up several wins where their best game wasn't there for the full sixty minutes, but they still managed to win the game. It might have hinted of a Cup hangover, but as the season rolled on, it was clear that the team didn't have any such thing - just their ongoing tendency to play some very sloppy periods within otherwise solid games.

Tonight versus the Rangers was one of those nights. The Blackhawks let themselves get outplayed in the first, and found themselves down 2-0 less than ten minutes into the game. Brad Richards opened the scoring with an even-strength goal; Mats Zuccarello put in a power play goal next off a pair of odd deflections.

The Blackhawks would put themselves back in the game with a much better middle frame. Jonathan Toews got Chicago on the board with a power play goal 6:17 into the second; the Blackhawks power play continues to produce. Brandon Bollig tied up the game just 1:48 later with a solid wrister from the left circle.

Although both teams pushed hard in the third period, it was the Rangers who managed to produce another goal late, with just 5:57 left in the game. Carl Hagelin gave New York the lead 3-2 by putting in a rebound from Marc Staal's shot.

The Blackhawks are just 3-1-3 since the Christmas break, and lack of rest certainly can't be the excuse. Chicago has a lot of offensive talent, but they can't assume that they'll always be able to easily outscore opponents. After the game, coach Joel Quenneville was blunt about his team's performance and said they had to find a way to win even if they weren't having their best game.

Chicago will be off until Saturday, when they will play the Canadiens in Montréal.

Three stars:
1) Carl Hagelin - NYR
2) Brandon Bollig - CHI
3) Henrik Lundqvist - NYR


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