Blackhawks can’t find net in narrow loss to Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS — For the second consecutive game to start the season, the Blackhawks put forth a respectable effort and took some valid positives from a difficult road matchup.

But for the second consecutive game, they lost nonetheless –this time 1-0 to the Golden Knights on Thursday.

Given the inherent dichotomy between the organization’s big-picture objective to earn as high a draft pick as possible next summer and day-to-day objective to play as hard as possible and develop its players as much as possible, that’s not a bad pattern. But it certainly isn’t satisfying, either.

“It’s a loss, right? It’s still tough,” coach Luke Richardson said. “But the compete level was really high tonight from everybody, [from] the goaltender out. We’re pretty happy with a lot of things we saw on the ice. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get it across that line.”

That goaltender, Alex Stalock, made his wildly aggressive style work all night long while making just his second NHL start in three years. He stopped 36 of 37 shots in a borderline heroic, if extremely chaotic, outing.

“You’ve got to go all out in the NHL,” Stalock said. “I can’t show up and give it half-effort, that’s for sure. But [I’m] not a huge guy, so I’ve got to use my body in a way that’s effective. Sometimes, if it’s coming out and playing more aggressive,it works. Sometimes, it’s sitting back if you see the play. But tonight, obviously, you saw a few instances where it got [scrambled] but kept the puck out in the end.”

The Hawks’ penalty kill also improved, squashing all three Knights power plays in their home opener after conceding four ‘PP’ goals to the Avalanche on Wednesday.

The second period proved to be a challenge yet again, though, as the Knights recorded 13 scoring chances to the Hawks’ three. (Chances favored the Knights only 16-13 during the first and third periods combined.) One of those chances turned into the game’s only goal, a two-on-one snipe by Paul Cotter.

And the Hawks’ offense never incited much confidence they could dent stellar Knights goalie Logan Thompson, who stopped all 25 shots he faced. They’ve yet to score an even-strength goal so far this season.

“Defensively, [we were] much better,” Richardson said. “And we can only work on one thing at a time. Because if we work on everything, I don’t think we’re going to get better at everything at the same time. So if we can chip away at that and continue to get a little bit better every game with our sticks defensively, that’s just going to add to more possession time, which hopefully adds to more offense.”

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