Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks 8-2 win over Senators: Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz lead power play to big night

Five takeaways from Blackhawks 8-2 win over Senators: Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz lead power play to big night

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 8-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre:

1. Richard Panik ends lengthy scoring drought.

Coming off a game in which he logged only 10:53 of ice time and was a healthy scratch almost a week ago in New York, Panik turned in arguably his best effort of the season in this one.

The Senators had 13 scoring chances at 5-on-5 in the first period compared to the Blackhawks' 2, but it was the latter who capitalized on their chances. Panik picked up a trickling puck in the slot after it was blocked and slapped home a shot that put the Blackhawks up 1-0 with 1:09 left in the opening frame.

It was Panik's sixth goal of the season, but just his first since Oct. 21 — a span of 27 games — and first 5-on-5 goal since Oct. 7, the second game of the season. Panik finished the game with nine shot attempts (five on goal), two hits, one takeaway and one blocked shot in 13:47 of ice time.

2. Patrick Sharp getting hot.

Since being a healthy scratch in back-to-back games against Edmonton and Calgary to close out 2017, the 36-year-old's stick is heating up and he's had the scoring touch as of late that's helped him become an eight-time 20-goal scorer in this league. Sharp responded to the message by scoring a goal in a 5-2 win over the Rangers last Wednesday that turned out to be the game winner, and scored another against the Vegas Golden Knights two days later.

Well, he kept his success in 2018 going when he fired a 48-foot wrist shot that got past goaltender Craig Anderson for a 2-0 Blackhawks lead at the 5:14 mark of the second period. Sharp has scored three goals in his last four games after failing to find the back of the net in his previous 12. It's even more impressive when you consider he scored only three goals in his first 35 games of the season.

Encouraging for Chicago to see the bounces going Sharp's way, and perhaps it can serve as a spark offensively.

3. Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz lead power play to big night.

Going into the game, the Blackhawks had the third-worst power play in the league with a 14.4 percent success rate and were 0-for-9 in that department over their last four games. But they took full advantage of going up against the fourth-worst penalty kill unit (76.3 percent) by scoring a season-high four goals with the man advantage, three of which came in the second period.

Schmaltz scored the first two, Jan Rutta got the third one and Kane scored the fourth, while assisting on each of the first three. Kane had registered three assists in a game 11 times in his NHL career, but this was the first time he recorded four and he became the seventh Blackhawks player to ever do that in one period, joining Doug Bentley, Bill Mosienko, Jim Wiste, Cliff Koroll, Jim Pappin and Patrick Sharp. Kane's five-point game was also a new career high after collecting four points in a game six times in his career.

Schmaltz has five goals during his career-high four-game goal streak, and 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his last seven games. His 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 38 games this season is also a new career high; he had 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) in 61 games last season.

As a team, the Blackhawks hadn't scored three power-play goals in a game all season and it was their first time scoring four since Feb. 15, 2016 in a 7-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs when they went 4-for-7.

4. Jonathan Toews looking like Jonathan Toews again.

The Blackhawks go as their captain goes, and boy is he rolling. This is the best stretch of hockey he's played all season and it's not close.

With a two-goal night, Toews extended his point streak to five games after previously going a season-long six games without a point. He has five goals and four assists during his point streak, which has included four multi-point efforts.

The Blackhawks are 4-1-1 in their last six games and have moved back into a wild card spot in the Western Conference (for now) in large part because of No. 19 looking like No. 19 again.

5. Will Brent Seabrook get back into the lineup Wednesday?

It was probably hard for Blackhawks fans to see a three-time Stanley Cup champion and staple on the blue line for more than a decade be a healthy scratch even though it may have been warranted. And it wasn't a bad time to do it, against an Ottawa team that has been extremely underwhelming this season and it being the first of a back-to-back.

But will Joel Quenneville reinsert him back into the lineup against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday? It will be difficult to break up the pairings after having a hand in the eight-goal outburst, and five of the six defensemen collecting at least a point in the victory. Duncan Keith and Jordan Oesterle each tallied two assists, Jan Rutta scored his first goal since Nov. 12 while Michal Kempny and Connor Murphy each added an apple of their own and had a plus-2 rating as a pairing.

Despite all that, don't expect Seabrook to be watching for the press box very long. 

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Probably not the way the Blackhawks wanted to start their second half of the season.

After a five-day break, the Blackhawks suffered a brutal 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the United Center. This coming after a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on home ice last Sunday.

"It was a game we had to win," Quenneville said after Saturday's loss. "Disappointing in a lot of ways."

The Blackhawks needed both goaltenders to get through 60 minutes. Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass combined for 39 saves on 46 shots.

On the offensive side of things, Patrick Kane hit a milestone.

The 29-year-old had two goals and an assist and recorded his 800th career point, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to reach 800 points.

The Blackhawks are now 22-18-6 on the season with 50 points and rank last in the Central Division, five points behind the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.

The Blackhawks' schedule doesn't get any easier when the Tampa Bay Lightning — the league-leader in points — come to town on Monday.

See what Quenneville and Kane had to say about Saturday's loss in the video above.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.

The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.

He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.

"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.

He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.

On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.

3. Mathew Barzal.

Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.

He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game. 

The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.