Blackhawks

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to end skid vs. Sabres

12-8_sabres_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to end skid vs. Sabres

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

1. Reinforcements coming?

After losing their fifth straight game, the Blackhawks recognized that changes needed to be made. So on Thursday, they placed Tanner Kero on waivers and all indications point to Vinnie Hinostroza getting recalled if/when Kero clears.

Hinostroza leads the Rockford IceHogs with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 23 games, and has proven he belongs on the big league roster. It'll be interesting to see where he plays, if he's in fact the player coming up. His speed can certainly help provide an offensive spark, and might be better suited to play a top six role off the get go.

2. Anton Forbserg or Jean-Francois Berube?

Forsberg was really good in his first two starts after Corey Crawford went down with a lower-body injury, but he struggled in his third one Wednesday in Washington, allowing three goals in a span of 3:28 and was pulled before the first period ended.

Berube wasn't too bad in relief. He stopped 12 of 14 shots, and didn't look out of place. There's a chance Crawford returns Sunday vs. Arizona, so this could be the only chance Berube gets at starting before then.

3. American boys.

It's unfortunate we won't get to see the possibility of Patrick Kane and Jack Eichel playing on a line together for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics. It could have been special to watch as two of the faces of the country.

But they will share the same sheet of ice tonight, and each of them tend to take their game to a higher level when they square off.

Eichel has recorded at least a point in three of four career games against Chicago while Kane has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 13 games against his hometown Sabres. Kane had two goals and three assists against them last year, including an overtime winner on Jan. 5 at home.

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

2-21_senators_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators 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. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?