If the Blackhawks are following a script during their Western Conference semifinals against the Vancouver Canucks, its title must be "Playing With Fire."
And they're sticking to it to the letter.
The Hawks committed early penalties and fell behind by two goals or more for the third time in this series during Game 3 Tuesday night, but unlike previous contests were burned for it in a 3-1 loss before a crowd of 22,659 at the United Center.
In the first two games of the series the Hawks came back from deficits to catch the Canucks, including Saturday night's 6-3 victory in Vancouver. The Hawks captured home-ice advantage with that triumph but gave it right back as the Canucks raced to a three-goal lead and never looked back in seizing a 2-1 advantage in the series with Game 4 Thursday night at the UC.
"Getting behind was a similar script in Games 1, 2 and 3," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We dug a huge hole. It's tough to overcome that. I didn't like anything about our game [Tuesday night]."
Three first-period penalties took the Hawks out of their offense, with the last leading to a Canucks power-play goal.
After Vancouver's Mason Raymond opened the scoring late in the period at even strength, Steve Bernier capitalized on a Patrick Kane penalty one minute into the second for a two-goal lead.
A Henrik Sedin score midway through the second increased Vancouver's edge to 3-0 before the Hawks finally kick-started their offense.
They finally got on the scoreboard after Daniel Sedin was sent to the penalty box for tripping Brian Campbell. With Ryan Kesler of the Canucks and the Hawks' Troy Brouwer already off for roughing, the teams were skating four-on-three. Further aiding the Hawks' cause was when Raymond lost his stick. Campbell fired a slap shot from just inside the blue line past Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who was screened by Dustin Byfuglien's big body.
"Some nights you don't have it skating well enough," Campbell said. "I don't think we skated our best in the series. We have to find a way to have a better first period than what we've had so far. It's unacceptable."
That goal was it for the Hawks as the Canucks found a defensive groove they lacked earlier in the series.
"It's frustrating not to come out hard and play hard in the playoffs, especially in the first period," said Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who had an assist on Campbell's goal. "We talked about that, about being disciplined, and it cost us again.
"We came out flat. They had the jump on us in the first and they were up 1-0. Usually when you're up 1-0 on the road you're feeling good about your game."
Luongo rebounded from a subpar performance in Game 2 to record 23 saves.
"It was a dangerous game," Quenneville said. "They check well. We did some decent things right off the bat but once they scored we didn't do much. We weren't crisp with the puck, we didn't get it deep and we didn't get it to the net. That made us successful in the first games but we seemed to have a little delay in our switch [Tuesday night]."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times