After going just 1-for-20 on the power play on the first three games of this four-game trip, the Blackhawks were hoping that the return of captain Adrian Aucoin on Tuesday night against the Canucks would turn around their struggling special teams.
Aucoin returned after missing the last 4½ games with a groin injury, but he reinjured it early in the third period, left the game and once again is day-to-day.
After playing a solid first period, especially at even strength, the Hawks once again got themselves in trouble with penalties. And Vancouver made them pay in a 6-2 Canucks victory.
The Canucks scored four times in the second period, twice on the power play.
The Hawks finished the trip 1-3, and they can blame penalties. Vancouver went 3-for-10 on the power play.
"Penalties killed us in all four games on the road," defenseman Jaroslav Spacek said. "We have to learn from that. I think we're trying to overplay and do something extra."
After playing 19 minutes 42 seconds through the first two periods, Aucoin played just two shifts in the third period before aggravating the groin.
"It was an innocent play," he said. "I was digging for the puck, I got bumped and something didn't feel right again."
If there was a bright side to the night, it was that the Hawks played a good Vancouver team even while five-on-five and that the power play went 2-for-5, with Pavel Vorobiev and Martin Lapointe scoring.
But the penalties are starting to cast a large shadow over whatever positives the Hawks attain.
"The next step is putting [guys] on the bench," coach Trent Yawney said.
"It's not like they haven't been given a chance. We can't tolerate penalties in the offensive zone. Tonight was just not using our heads."
The Hawks were without winger Tuomo Ruutu, who missed his first NHL game with a sore back.
Ruutu said he felt better Tuesday but not good enough to play.
Ruutu didn't skate Sunday or Monday, and the Hawks will be off Wednesday, giving him four days off the ice to rest and receive treatment.
"It's been bothering me for a while," Ruutu said.
"I'd rather take [Tuesday] off and get a couple days before Sunday [when the Hawks face Minnesota]."
Ruutu said doctors have told him there is no structural damage and that playing won't cause further injury.
Ruutu has one goal and one assist in six games with just 12 shots on goal. He won't blame his back for his play so far.
"I don't want to give any excuses for myself," Ruutu said.
Yawney left the team after the game due to a death in his family. He won't return until Monday.
Assistant coaches Denis Savard and Bruce Cassidy will run practices and Sunday's game while Yawney is away.
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