WINNIPEG – One of the great attributes that Jeremy Colliton spoke about his team’s ability to play on the road was the ability to win scrappy games and rebound when their opponents made a play.
“Our mentality has been better on the road as far as willingness to grind for 60 minutes,” said Colliton on Friday when asked about his team’s success on the road.
That was 13-9-4 coming into Sunday night’s game against the Jets in Winnipeg – the first of a five-game Canada trip for the team as they compete for one of the last spots in the Western Conference playoff race. For a part of that game, the Blackhawks looked like the road team that Colliton spoke glowingly about just a few days earlier, jumping to an early two-goal lead.
But a short-handed goal in the second period turned the momentum, and with their offense stalled, the Jets finished off things strong in the third period, and took away what would have been a critical win.
Winnipeg got a pair of goals to grab the lead in the third period then added two more short-handed scores to pull away for a 5-2 win on Sunday night at Bell MTS Place. It’s one of the more disappointing results of what’s been a positive 2020 so far for the team, putting them five points back of the Jets for the top Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and four points behind Calgary for the second with 27 games to go.
It’s the tenth loss for the Blackhawks on the road and is just the second for the team in their last 11 games away from home. It didn’t look like it would be that way when Dominik Kubalik scored the first goal of the game 15 seconds in, which is the fastest for a rookie in team history according to NHL PR.
Brandon Saad got another later in the period, but then the Blackhawks’ offense stalled, and eventually, the Jets broke through thanks to a failed power play early in the second period. Kyle Conner’s shorthanded goal got Winnipeg on the board and switched the momentum of the game, and the Jets took the lead in the third on scores Blake Wheeler then Andrew Copp.
Unable to muster any offense to counter, finishing with just 26 shots on the night, Winnipeg got a pair of empty net goals to finish three goals ahead of the Blackhawks. Playing well on the road has been a staple of this team, but they detoured for a night as they start an important road trip.