Anisimov has four-point night as Blackhawks roll past Stars


Anisimov has four-point night as Blackhawks roll past Stars

DALLAS – The last time the Blackhawks came to Dallas, they were fine through 40 minutes before the Stars overwhelmed them in the third.

On Saturday, it was all Blackhawks from the start.

Artem Anisimov had his first four-point night in five seasons and Corey Crawford stopped 36 of 37 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Stars 5-1 at American Airlines Center. The Blackhawks now have a five-point lead over the Stars in the Central Division.

Jonathan Toews recorded the 300th assist of his career. Anisimov’s last four-point night came when he was with the New York Rangers on Jan. 19, 2011 (four assists vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs). Patrick Kane scored his 32nd goal, a new career high for a season. Niklas Hjalmarsson recorded two assists. Marian Hossa scored his 10th goal of the season and 496th of his career.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks put forth one of their more dominating outings of the season, and against a team that manhandled them at the end of their last contest.

“This was a big game,” Crawford said. “I mean, the last time they took it to us and it was a closer game than the score actually said. It was definitely one of the bigger ones this year.”

Anisimov has been a good player throughout this season. But as coach Joel Quenneville said, “tonight he gets the production to show for it.” Anisimov had three assists and a shorthanded goal.

“He quietly goes about his business without the puck and is pretty handy with it,” Quenneville said. “It’s been a good season for him to date, and he’s been a big part of our team.”

Playing a Jason Spezza-less Stars – Spezza, who has 40 points on the season, is out week to week with an upper-body injury – the Blackhawks were strong and energetic from the start. They scored in various ways, be it two shorthanded goals (Hossa and Anisimov), a power-play goal (Brent Seabrook’s 34 seconds into the game) and a 4-on-4 goal (Trevor van Riemsdyk).

They also chased former Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi. Kari Lehtonen started the second period after Niemi allowed three goals on 11 first-period shots.

[MORE: Blackhawks could reportedly play Blues in 2017 Winter Classic]

When the Blackhawks were here on Dec. 22 the Stars dominated them in the third period en route to a 4-0 victory. But this was a different night and the Blackhawks, who have looked good out of the All-Star break, wasted no time taking it to the Stars with Seabrook’s power-play goal.

Tyler Seguin got the lone goal past Crawford, a rebound off Jamie Benn’s shot that cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1 late in the first period. But Crawford was otherwise strong, especially in the second period when the Blackhawks were on the defensive and badly outshot by the Stars.

“Yeah, seeing the puck well,” Crawford said. “A couple of rebounds there our guys were able to jump on, battle and get it out there. I thought our special teams were the difference; those two short-handed goals were pretty important tonight. Definitely thought that was one of the key factors in the win.”

The Blackhawks wanted to come out of the All-Star break refreshed and ready to go. They wanted to string together some victories on this latest road trip. They did that, ending with an exclamation point against their division rival.

“Yeah, that was a big win for us. Corey was unbelievable as usual; he came up with key saves in key moments. Special teams were good today, too. So yeah, great trip and we’re excited to go back home for a while now,” Hjalmarsson said. “We feel like we’ve been on the road for a month, almost, with the All-Star break, too. It’ll be fun to play at home again.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: