Blackhawks

Big Ben: Hawks get even on Smith's heroics

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Big Ben: Hawks get even on Smith's heroics

Sunday, April 24, 2011
Posted: 9:54 p.m. Updated: 11:14 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Ben Smith said he couldnt come up with the words to describe how he felt after netting the game-winning goal on Sunday night. His smile, which reached from ear to ear said it all.

WATCH: Frolik, Crawford full of confidence

Smith knocked a rebound past Roberto Luongo with 4:30 remaining in overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks forced Game 7 with their 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. For Smith, it was undoubtedly the biggest goal of his young career, although he certainly wouldnt have drawn it up that way.

I guess when youre growing up youre thinking overtime, a couple seconds left and a breakaway. But it was a greasy goal, it was ugly, and thats the goal that was going to go in in overtime for either team, Smith said. It was going to be an ugly goal.

It was, but it led to a pretty scenario for the Blackhawks, who were once down 3-0 in the series and are now riding a wave of confidence theyll take to Game 7 in Vancouver on Tuesday.

WATCH: How Hawks went from 3-0 hole to Game 7

We feel so much in control, said Dave Bolland, who had a goal and an assist. The momentums going our way. After winning three games straight, its huge for us.

It was a stunning ending in a game full of interesting subplots. Brent Seabrook returned after missing a week from a concussion and Michael Frolik scored the first penalty shot in Blackhawks postseason history to tie the game early in the third period. Cory Schneider started Game 6 instead of Roberto Luongo, but Luongo was back in at the end after Schneider said he cramped up on Froliks tying shot.

I got a long shift before that and I was kind of gassed, Frolik said. I kept my breath and calmed down and tried to focus on myself and my moves and that hopefully it would work.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said they decided Saturday to go with Schneider.

All year long weve used both goaltenders and to tell you the truth, I went with the guy, I thought Cory could give us a real good game tonight, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. I think we played our best game of the series so far tonight, we were down early to five defensemen (minus Sami Salo), and we just kept pushing.

Corey Crawford had another big outing for the Blackhawks. He was especially strong in the third period and overtime, when he stopped 21 of the 22 shots he saw. Seeing or maybe hearing Smiths game-winning goal was a relief.

I kind of got a glimpse of his stick swatting at it backhand, Crawford said. I was hoping it was going in and I saw the crowd jump up and that was pretty much it. It was awesome.
Corey Crawford makes one of his 32 saves on a 2-on-1 rush for the Canucks in overtime. (US PRESSWIRE)
Bolland was once again a factor. His hit on Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis forced the turnover that went to Bryan Bickell, who scored the Blackhawks first goal. Bolland later scored when Schneiders clearing pass went right to Patrick Kane, who fed it to him. Bolland now has six points (two goals, four assists) in his three games this series. He has 17 points in 15 career playoff games against the Canucks.

Hes got a lot of jump in his game. And coming off an injury like he had, youre not sure how effective hes going to be, coach Joel Quenneville said. But hes been pretty remarkable.

The Blackhawks are somehow still alive. They staved off the Canucks furious attempts to win in overtime.

Weve got a great feeling in this locker room and thats what you get when you win three games in a row, Jonathan Toews said. Were fighting our way back; even coming into this game, people were talking like we were up. We knew we werent, that we still had a lot of work to do and we still do. Theres one more game and anything can happen.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night:
 
1. Nick Schmaltz returns but sizzle doesn’t.

You didn’t expect the fireworks of the season opener but you figured Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman and Patrick Kane would connect pretty quickly again. The speed was certainly there. The connections on passes were not. It wasn’t just that second line, though: it was another night on which the Blackhawks’ offense was sluggish. 
 
2. Tripping along.

I joked that tripping is the new slashing. Maybe that’s not the case league-wide but it was for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks took five tripping penalties overall, including three in the first period. It was a clear sign that the Blackhawks were trying to play catch-up all night, and they didn’t fare well at it.
 
3. Power play gets something but…

It took until late in the third period (when the Blackhawks’ offense seems to get going lately). The Blackhawks got two late power-play goals, a reminder of what they can do when they battle for the puck and show some spark.

“Our sense of urgency in the puck area, be it 5-on-5 or on the power play, that’s the differential of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and making plays off it is one of our strengths,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t do that very often and we haven’t won many battles.”
 
4. Starting slow.

Why these are happening is a mystery, and they’ve been most evident in the Blackhawks’ last three games, which have all come against division opponents. Too much relying on Corey Crawford again and not much in terms of shots, be it quality or quantity through the first two periods. The Blackhawks were outshot 17-8 through the first 40 minutes on Wednesday. While they created little they gave up way too much.
 
5. Patrick Sharp OK?

Sharp was injured late on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks-Blues game got chippy in the final five-plus minutes. Quenneville thought Sharp was fine but he wasn’t positive at the time of his postgame press conference.

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

ST. LOUIS – The Blackhawks’ first tripping came barely a minute into the game. Then came another one. And another. And another. And another. Despite welcoming one of their fastest players back into the lineup, the Blackhawks were overall flat-footed and playing catch-up all night, be it on the ice or on the scoreboard, to the St. Louis Blues.

Nick Schmaltz returned but the effect on the second line and the Blackhawks overall wasn’t immediate. Instead the Blackhawks looked sluggish. Their offensive opportunities were few – a one and done here and there but no sustained zone time or pressure on Blues goaltender Jake Allen – their passing was off and they were on the defensive all night.

And then there were the tripping penalties. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill held up through it, nullifying all five Blues power-play opportunities. But the Blues found other ways to inflict their damage.

“They played well and we were brutal,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That was a bad start, a bad middle and even [though] it was a little excited at the end it wasn’t very good. That’s as close to brutal as you can get.”

The Blackhawks’ last three games have common themes: they’re outshot for a good part of the game, they’re giving up a good amount of quality shots and then the urgency hits them midway through the third period. For the third consecutive contest the Blackhawks scored two goals late and in two of those three games it wasn’t nearly enough.

“Obviously it wasn’t good enough for two periods. If you take any positives out of this game, it’s the way we played in the third,” Patrick Kane said. “At least we know we can do it. Just gotta do it before our backs are against the wall.”

Why it’s taking the Blackhawks so long to get going, however, is the question. Obviously the Blackhawks’ late third-period pushes show how capable they are of producing when necessary. Said Alex DeBrincat, who assisted on Ryan Hartman’s goal late in regulation, “If we’re would’ve been crashing the net like that all game it may have been a different story.”

But they didn’t. The Blackhawks welcomed back a teammate that’s injected speed into their lineup but the team was once again stumbling out of the gate.

“We’re supposed to be out there, giving our all every minute we’re out there and every shift, go out there and take it a shift at a time and give it all you got every shift,” Hartman said. “We have four lines that can roll so there’s no excuse for not going out there and putting all your energy out there for a shift and getting ready for the next one.”