Artemi Panarin's four-point night lifts Blackhawks past Jets in OT


Artemi Panarin's four-point night lifts Blackhawks past Jets in OT

By Jeff Hamilton

WINNIPEG, Manitoba. – After the morning skate, hours before puck drop against the Winnipeg Jets Friday night at the MTS Centre, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville warned about the dangers of the Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane line.

In this case, what sparked the conversation was the trio’s lack of explosiveness over the last stretch of games. Kane, who despite being the NHL’s leading scorer with 39 goals and 94 points heading into the night, had just two assists in his last five games. Panarin, who will surely be a finalist for top rookie come season’s end, had just two points in his last nine.

“They still get looks in games, they’re still dangerous,” insisted Quenneville. “They get a lot of attention from our opponents but I still think every time they hit the ice they’re a threat to score and there’s a lot of danger in their game.”

That “danger” was on full display Friday, as Panarin finished with a season-high four points to lead the Hawks — the eighth time this season Panarin has recorded at least three points in a game.

[MORE: Duncan Keith suspended six games, will miss first postseason game]

He opened the scoring for the Hawks in the first period, set up Patrick Kane for his 40th of the year in the second, evened the score at 4-4 in the third and capped off a 2-on-1 play with a nifty pass to Brent Seabrook for the game-winning goal at the 1:02 mark of overtime.

As for Kane, he finished with a two-point night with an assist on Panarin’s first-period goal, extending his NHL-leading point-total to 96.

“When they get some speed through the middle of the ice they kind of have a pretty good idea of where the other guy is going to end up," said Quenneville after the game. "They find lanes and seams like they did on the power play and on 5-on-5 and they get through some nights and their finish is excellent."

As impressive as the Hawks’ top line was, the victory was far from a thing of beauty. The Hawks surrendered two separate leads in the game, and were trailing 4-3 late in the third period. They were also short a few guys in the second period, losing Jonathan Toews, who took a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot to the side of the head, and Trevor van Riemsdyk, both of who returned for the third. Andrew Shaw had just one shift in the second period but had to leave the game.

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Blake Wheeler scored twice, and Dustin Byfuglien and rookie Nic Petan each added a goal to keep the game close for the Jets.

“I definitely think it’s a confidence booster looking forward knowing we can be down and get a big goal, get it to overtime, do whatever we need to do to get the two points,” said Seabrook, who’s OT winner was his 14th of the season.

Seabrook’s late heroics were a high note for the Blackhawks, who started the evening on a low one.

Just before puck drop, news broke that Duncan Keith had been suspended six games for his high-stick on Minnesota forward Charlie Coyle in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Wild. With Friday’s game included in the suspension, Keith will miss just one playoff game.

As for the rest of the team, the Hawks return home from the four-game trip with a 3-1 record, improving to 45-26-7 on the season. The win also extends their lead to six points on the idle Nashville Predators for third spot in the Central Division and just four points short of St. Louis, who lost 6-5 to Boston.

Scott Darling allowed four goals on 32 shots to improve to 10-8-3.

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

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?