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Blackhawks look ahead after 12-game win streak ends

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TAMPA — The longest winning streak in Chicago Blackhawks’ history ended Thursday when they lost 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. But coach Joel Quenneville feels the defending champions have put themselves in a strong position for the remainder of the season by running off 12 consecutive victories.

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The Blackhawks were 13 points out of first place in the Western Conference after a 2-1 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 27. They began the streak two days later, and despite the loss to the Lightning are three points ahead of the Dallas Stars for the top spot in the Central Division and the Western Conference.

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Quenneville feels the winning streak has the Blackhawks in a good position with 32 games remaining.

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“[The streak] put us in a great spot,” he said. “You’re in that 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 [position in the ] basically almost all year, I’d say even 10. You want to try to keep yourself out of that position. There’s a lot of hockey left to be sorted out but I really liked what we did. We still have to keep pushing.”

Moving forward was the prevailing message after the game.

Chicago (31-14-4) won’t have much time to think about the loss to the Lightning; the Blackhawks visit the Florida Panthers on Friday. The Panthers also had a 12-game win streak, from Dec. 15 to Jan. 10, but they are 0-3-1 in their past four games. That’s something the Blackhawks would like to avoid.

“It will be fun to play Florida,” defenseman said. “I bet they are pretty hungry too. I think they’ve lost four in a row. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

Chicago returned to Amalie Arena for the first cheap jerseys time since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, a 2-1 victory that gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 series lead. The Lightning entered the game Thursday on a six-game winning streak and used a smothering defense to frustrate the Blackhawks: Tampa Bay outshot Chicago 33-18 and won 32 of 48 faceoffs.

The top line of , and was held to two shots on goal. Lightning coach Jon Cooper dispatched the line of Ryan Callahan, J.T. Brown and Valtteri Filppula to keep them contained.

Callahan was credited with three hits. He also created two good scoring chances in the first period that were denied by Blackhawks goalie .

“You can feel [the energy] in the building, going into the game.” Callahan said. “I think anytime we play Chicago cheap custom jerseys now you’re going to look across and you remember playing them in the Finals and you remember that feeling of losing to them. The extra emotion is there.”

Crawford made 31 saves but had his nine-game winning streak snapped. He said the Blackhawks have to focus on the next game.

“It was definitely a turning point cheap custom jerseys for our season,” Crawford said of the 12-game streak. “We are feeling good and have chemistry throughout the lines. It was definitely important to get on that streak and move up the standings.”