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Punchless Hawks remain in tailspin
A reeling team needed someone to step forward and make a difference Monday night.
That's exactly what Peter Forsberg did in handing the Blackhawks their fifth straight loss and their third straight shutout. Forsberg had a pair of goals and was a dominant presence throughout the game in Philadelphia's 3-0 victory.
The Hawks have now gone 205 minutes 10 seconds since their last goal, the kind of streak normally associated with soccer. They are a long way from their team record of 621:42 set in 1929, but the way things are going, who knows?
"I don't know how you manufacture offense in this league," Hawks coach Trent Yawney said. "That's why every July in free agency some of the most offensively gifted players are the ones that usually go first."
The Flyers were embarrassed at home Saturday night in an 8-2 loss to Pittsburgh, and it was clear Forsberg was not going to let that happen again.
"We have five games at home, and we have to grab some points," Forsberg said.
The Flyers are last in the Eastern Conference.
"I thought we played well," Forsberg said. "We weren't playing the best team in the league."
Unlike Forsberg, no one on the Hawks is stepping up and taking the initiative, and Forsberg's counterpart as captain, Adrian Aucoin, contributed to the Flyers' first goal with a poor pass to Brent Seabrook's feet that led to Forsberg's first goal of the night.
That came midway through a first period in which the Hawks were outshot 17-5 and would have been blown out if not for the play of goaltender Brian Boucher.
"I thought we came out a little unprepared at the start," Boucher said. "But we had a great second period and were right there."
The Hawks outshot the Flyers 15-5 in the second but didn't take advantage of prime scoring chances. On a power play, Denis Arkhipov fanned with an open net and Radim Vrbata, with another open net, had his shot deflected by a Flyers defenseman.
What shots did get through were stopped by Robert Esche, who came into the game with a .785 save percentage. The shutout was the first this season for the Flyers.
In the third period, with the Hawks still down 1-0, Patrick Sharp had a breakaway but failed to get a shot off as a sliding Denis Gauthier knocked it off his stick.
Forsberg put the game away 12 minutes into the third with a brilliant move, putting the puck between Sharp's legs, then sliding a backhander past Boucher.
"Your leaders have to take the lead in creating a winning attitude," Yawney said. "It's times like this when your best players have to step up."
One team's did, the other's is still waiting, with time quickly slipping away.
Tuomo Ruutu played 17:08 on left wing, had no shots on goal and was credited with four hits in his season debut.
After playing less than nine minutes in each of the last two games, Jeff Hamilton was scratched Monday, along with Reed Low and Danny Richmond.
Yawney said rookie Adam Burish looked like "he didn't want the puck anymore," and that it was time for him to rebuild his confidence in the AHL. Burish was sent to Norfolk on Sunday along with defenseman Cam Barker and center Dave Bolland, and the Hawks recalled center Craig McDonald.
General manager Dale Tallon said goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin may be back when the Hawks face New Jersey on Nov. 9.