Another blown lead, another two points for the Blackhawks

Another blown lead, another two points for the Blackhawks

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Blackhawks turned a 2-0 third period lead into a 3-2 shootout victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. If blowing a third period lead seems like a rerun by now it is, but the Blackhawks keep picking up points.

In some ways it's difficult to criticize the Hawks, they can win games with a less than stellar effort. The Panthers worked hard, stayed determined, and seemed to wait for the Blackhawks to grow complacent. A two goal lead in hockey was always considered dangerous and when a team can't get a three goal advantage trouble has a way of happening.

It is a long season and it is full of distractions. The Blackhawk players are accompanied on this swing through Florida by their mothers. Maybe that's a distraction, maybe not. Many teams seem to have trouble beating both the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning on the same road trip as losing focus in Florida is easy to do.

Frequently the Blackhawks appear to be bored at times. Realistically they haven't scored enough goals to be able to zone out for parts of a contest without blowing leads. As the game wore on the Panthers were hungrier than the Hawks, and it doesn't take very much to turn a two goal lead into a tied game. A nice scoring play and a bad turnover was all it took Tuesday night to even the score and send the game to overtime.

Tuesday night's contest was difficult to watch from start to finish, the game didn't have much flow. That's going to happen as many clubs will do whatever it takes to clog up the Chicago attack. For the Hawks to succeed they have to stay engaged with the process and stick to their game plan.

Corey Crawford made some good stops but the second Panther strike looked like one that could have been saved. Jonathan Toews scored on a nice pass by Duncan Keith and Bryan Bickell lasered a wrist shot past Tim Thomas for the Chicago tallies.

It was a nice effort by forward by Ben Smith as he blocked four shots in 10:55 of playing time. The Hawks were effective in the faceoff circle led by Toews winning 71% of his draws. Two of three shooters were successful in the shootout which was an improvement. There were good things but the best part of the night was picking up the win.

On the downside, some players seemed to disappear in the second half of the game. For as much as the Blackhawks possess the puck and outshoot opponents the goals haven't been flowing. Nine games is a small sample and although blowing third period leads isn't good, picking up points will cover up some blemishes.

The shootout will likely be around for awhile but my choice would be to make it disappear. At the very least the scoring system or overtime format needs to change but NHL kingpins seem to like the status quo. As odd as it seems for some, having shootouts happen on a consistent basis takes away from whatever excitement they could provide.

Playing Michal Handzus at center with Patrick Kane was hard to watch last season and it isn't any better this time around. Kane and Patrick Sharp aren't as threatening with Handzus alongside. On the positive side of the ledger Toews, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad have been doing just fine.

The players will enjoy more time with their moms and prepare to face Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Word around is Nikolai Khabibulin will get the start against one of his former teams.

The best news is the Blackhawks can be better and as it stands now there are only two teams in all the NHL with more points. Not too shabby for a club that has appeared complacent at times and hasn't hit their best stride.

I will be back on Friday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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