The Blackhawks closed out their preseason schedule in less-than-stellar fashion Sunday night, dropping their preseason finale 4-3 in overtime on a goal by Colorado’s Ryan Smyth. Smyth redirected a shot from Paul Stastny past Blackhawks goalie Cristobal Huet to send Chicago to their first home loss of the preseason.
“You want to build confidence going into the season,” said Smyth. “We got the win and we can take that into the regular season.”
While he wasn’t happy with the result, Blackhawks Head Coach Denis Savard said he was more disappointed by the lack of hustle that he saw from his team in the loss.
“I don’t think we played the game that we are capable of playing. It seems to me like we had no jump,” Savard said. “Our detail wasn’t very good. We just weren’t as sharp as we should have been.”
The game started promisingly, as Patrick Sharp scored his sixth goal of the preseason early in the first. However, Colorado’s Wojtek Wolski scored the first of his two goals to even the score at 1. After Kris Versteeg scored his third goal of the preseason, Colorado scored two unanswered goals to put them up 3-2. Martin Havlat netted a six-on-four power play goal, his third in two games, as time expired to send the game into overtime.
“Havlat’s a good player,” explained Colorado goalie Peter Budaj. “He made it past me. I thought I was pretty far out of the crease but he made a good shot.”
Though this was the Hawks’ sixth game in eight days, Savard said that fatigue shouldn’t have played a factor in the loss or the team’s lack of energy.
“We played a lot of hockey- six games in eight nights,” Savard said. “But we have times in the season where we’re tired. We’re going to be tired at times, we’ve got to get used to playing those games.”
With the conclusion of training camp, Savard added that decisions about the team’s opening-day roster, including the fate of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, will be coming shortly, but it is hardly finalized; if the team starts off the wrong way, changes could be imminent.
“We have a good idea about what’s going to happen. But tonight, nobody really stood out,” he said. “They have to show up. They have to want to be here. If guys don’t perform, we’ve got a lot of bodies in the minors.”
The Blackhawks open the regular season on Friday in New York against the Rangers.