Shot suppression a positive for Blackhawks in Friday's loss

Scott King

No, 5-2 isn't a pretty score. And a red-hot goalie (Corey Crawford) getting lit up for two goals in the first 3:17 of the game and five goals on 13 shots 11:26 into the second period by Colorado wasn't a festive post-Thanksgiving spectacle at the United Center Friday. 

The Blackhawks dropped their first of a back-to-back, home-and-home set against the Avalanche after going 6-2-2 in their past nine games, but it wasn't as bad as the score would suggest. Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 14 games (23 points; 10 goals, 13 assists) and most importantly, the Avalanche were held to 23 shots on goal, tying Chicago's lowest total of the season (October 24 against the Flyers).

Prior to Friday, the Hawks had the most shots allowed per game in the league with 36.2.

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"It was a 5-2 game today, but I don't think that was indicative of how we played," said Blackhawks forward Zack Smith, who scored his first goal as a Blackhawk Friday. "They didn't have a lot of shots, but they play some good hockey over there. 

"They transition the puck really fast and they've got some good speed, they just had grade-A scoring chances, a lot of screens, they made it really hard on Crawford tonight. He had to battle through a lot of bodies to see the puck, so that was tough. They didn't have many shots, but they play the right way."

Despite their goalie's line of sight being obstructed and the Avalanche frequently finding the back of the net, there was a lot of planning and execution that went into limiting Colorado's shots. 
"I thought the D [had] a pretty good gap tonight. I know we stress a lot about how much speed [Colorado has], especially led by (Nathan) MacKinnon. I thought it was good that way tonight, we had some in-zone pressure, in-zone time that eliminates time on our end, so that helps too. Among other things, the D played pretty good tonight," stated Smith. 

The Hawks will get another crack at the Avs. in Colorado on Saturday, likely with Robin Lehner in net, who leads the league in save percentage (.938) among goalies with 10 or more starts.

Chicago may want to continue to zero in on MacKinnon, who had four points on Friday, including a goal (59 seconds in) and two assists in the first period alone. 

"I'm not sure the game plan changes," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the rematch. "We know exactly what they bring: they've got some speed, we have to slow them down, we have to be ready in transition. 

"We have to manage the puck better. You feed their offense when you throw pucks away or turn it over in key areas, and we're going to talk about shooting the puck, because like I said, we could've generated even more offensively."

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Shot suppression a positive for Blackhawks in Friday's loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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