Four takeaways: Blackhawks scoring drought continues in shutout loss to Hurricanes

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Saturday:

1. Blackhawks response to work ethic being questioned

After calling out the work ethic in a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, head coach Jeremy Colliton was looking for and expecting a response on Saturday in Carolina.

"It doesn't need to be pretty," Colliton said before the game. "We just need to do what we need to do to get two points."

The Blackhawks responded with a solid effort, but they're still searching for the result to go with it. It's the fourth straight loss (0-3-1) for the Blackhawks, who are now 2-5-2 through their first nine games.

"I thought we did a good job of coming in, being excited to play and having a good attitude and we just couldn't find a way to score a goal," Patrick Kane said. "It obviously hurts. We need to produce offense in this league and you need to score goals to win games."

2. Winning the possession battle, but not the game

Since the start of the 2017-18 season, the Hurricanes rank first in even-strength shot attempts for per 60 minutes (63.9) and scoring chances for percentage (54.4), according to Natural Stat Trick. They've been one of the league's best possession teams for years while the Blackhawks have given up the fifth-most scoring chances per 60 minutes (29.3) over that span.

The Blackhawks knew this would be a challenging matchup, especially against a team that went to the Eastern Conference Final last season and got even better on paper.

The Blackhawks won the possession battle, leading 58-46 in even-strength shot attempts but the offense is struggling to find the back of the net and the Hurricanes generated 11 scoring chances to the Blackhawks' five in the third period, most of them coming after it turned into a three-goal game.

"We played well for two periods," Colliton. "Disappointed that we didn't get better for that effort. We've just got to keep playing, keep sticking to it. When they got the third goal, we started pressing a little bit and got a little bit loose defensively, they got a lot [of chances] the last 12 minutes, which I didn't love.

"No one's going to lend us a hand out of this. We've just got to keep playing. The idea is that you've got to stick to doing the right things over time and that's how we're going to get out of it, and when we do get out of it, those habits will help us go on a run. But right now, it's difficult for these guys."

3. Scoring drought continues

The Blackhawks shook up all four lines on Saturday, with Colliton and the coaching staff looking for a spark on offense. Most notably, Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were put together on the first line and that trio had a strong day.

All four lines had positive 5-on-5 possession numbers, but it didn't translate on the scoresheet. The Blackhawks have now scored only two goals in their past three games and that's simply not good enough.

"Hockey seems to be tough right now," Kane said. "A lot of hard work, a lot of 50-50 battles we're trying to win and it doesn't seem like anything's coming from it. Like I said, that's the message in here, stay with it, hopefully sooner or later those things are going to break and that work you do is going to become easier and get rewarded for it."

4. Losing the special teams battle ... again

The Blackhawks are looking for something to hang on to and they can't right now. Special teams is an area of the game that can help build confidence or offer some sort of momentum, but it hasn't been there on a consistent basis.

After killing off seven straight penalties in their previous two games, the Blackhawks went 0-for-2 on the penalty kill against Carolina and the power play also finished 0-for-3, extending the drought to 0-for-16 in their past four games. 

"I don't think we've won the special teams battle much this year, and it's difficult to get results," Colliton said. "There's no secrets in there, as far as what we need to do to get some wins."

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