Blackhawks

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks back at it against Stars

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks back at it against Stars

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. How will Blackhawks respond without Corey Crawford?

In a surprising turn of events, the Blackhawks placed Crawford on injured reserve Friday after he apparently suffered an injury during Thursday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. He's 11-7-2 with a 2.29 goals against average, .930 save percentage and two shutouts in 21 appearances this season, and is certainly among the goaltenders in the early running for the Vezina Trophy, so it's a major blow that comes at a time where the Blackhawks were starting to roll.

The most difficult part to swallow is, despite Crawford's play, the Blackhawks still find themselves barely outside the playoff picture. They don't have much margin for error, so it will be interesting to see how the Blackhawks respond without arguably their most important player for at least one week.

Jean-Francois Berube was recalled to serve as the backup while Anton Forsberg takes over as the starter for the time being.

2. Can Alex DeBrincat carry over hot November into December?

History was made last month when DeBrincat scored the most goals (10) in a month in Blackhawks history, previously set by Murray Belfour (January 1960), Darryl Sutter (February 1981) and Steve Larmer (December 1982) with nine. He compiled 14 points in 13 games after recording just one goal and four assists in 12 games in October. 

DeBrincat ranks fourth among all rookies with 19 points, trailing only Brock Boeser (25), Mathew Barzal (24) and Clayton Keller (21). Can the 19-year-old winger keep it up into December?

3. Bounce back game for power play?

The Blackhawks tied a season-high with seven power-play opportunities in Thursday's matchup against Dallas, but converted on just one of those. And it was the difference in the game.

With Crawford out, as mentioned above, the Blackhawks need to step up in other areas and the power play is the most notably one. They'll need to take advantage of every chance they can get.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks go for third straight win vs. Panthers

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks go for third straight win vs. Panthers

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Florida Panthers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Can Patrick Kane build off two-point performance?

For the first time since 2009, Kane had gone four straight games without a point and it was almost five but he recorded two assists in the third period of Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

It was important for his line overall to get going again, and they did just that Sunday when Artem Anisimov scored the go-ahead goal and Nick Schmaltz added some insurance, with Kane assisting on both of those goals.

The Panthers rank dead last in goals against, so there's an opportunity for Kane and Co. to build some momentum on offense.

2. Power play breakout?

Alright, here's your chance. The Blackhawks have scored only one power-play goal in their last 17 tries, and have slipped to 29th overall in that area but are welcoming a Panthers team that ranks among the bottom 5 in penalty kill percentage.

The Blackhawks just haven't been able to get anything going with the man advantage, whether it's net front presence, quality shots or failed entries. Not scoring isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when it's two minutes of nothing, it can be a momentum killer. Fixing that is Step 1.

3. Another big night vs. Florida for top line?

The last time the Blackhawks played the Panthers, the first line of Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Richard Panik absolutely dominated in a 4-1 win on Nov. 25. Toews and Saad each scored a goal and had multi-point efforts, which at the time were breakouts for a couple of struggling players.

Alex DeBrincat has joined those two on the first line, and that trio has been solid early on. The chemistry has been noticeable, and it should only get stronger the more they play together and figure out each other's tendencies.

Patrick Kane now has the fifth-most points in Blackhawks history

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USA TODAY

Patrick Kane now has the fifth-most points in Blackhawks history

Patrick Kane made Blackhawks history on Sunday night.

With two assists against the Arizona Coyotes, the 29-year-old forward now has the fifth-most points in franchise history with 781, passing Doug Wilson who had 779.

Here's the new Top 5:

1. Stan Mikita — 1,467

2. Bobby Hull — 1,153

3. Denis Savard — 1,096

4. Steve Larmer — 923

5. Patrick Kane — 781

Not bad company, huh?

Kane's two-point game came at a pretty good time. Entering Sunday, he was held off the scoresheet for four straight games, the longest streak of such since the 2009-10 season.

Kane snapped his slump with two points in a minute and 45 seconds.

"He's fun to watch," said Tommy Wingels of Kane. "People in here, people in this city are very, very fortunate to have a world-class player like that in their city."