Big third period pushes Blackhawks past Flames

Big third period pushes Blackhawks past Flames

The Blackhawks’ first two periods against Calgary on Tuesday were pretty forgettable.

On a night when the Cubs were creating offensive fireworks in Cleveland, the Blackhawks weren’t mustering much on the United Center ice. That is, until the third period. Then, they did a whole lot with a little.

Artem Anisimov had the game-winning goal and an assist and Corey Crawford was stellar in stopping 33 of 34 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Flames 5-1. The Blackhawks have now won four of their last five and have collected points in seven of their last eight games.

Despite some rough points this season, and another slow start on Tuesday, the Blackhawks are tied with the Minnesota Wild with a Central Division-leading 13 points. Anisimov is now on a career-high, eight-game point streak (seven goals, six assists)

“There are some positive signs in there,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The penalty killing is getting better, a couple lines getting better and a little bit more balance in our rotation. I still think we need to keep getting better.”

Sure, but the Blackhawks are nevertheless collecting points. And once they got the lead on Anisimov’s goal, a beautiful tape-to-tape pass from Kane that Anisimov pushed past Brian Elliott, the Blackhawks didn’t relinquish it. They scored four goals on seven shots in that third period, including a dazzling one by Tyler Motte in which the rookie bulldozed his way to his third of the season.

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“[Brent Seabrook] made a great play in the corner getting the puck up the wing, [Nick Schmaltz] made a better play chipping it by their d-man,” Motte said. “The bench was yelling, ‘speed,’ so I just tried to take it wide, happened to get the puck on the weak side of the net there and slide one in.”

And Crawford was once again the reason the Blackhawks were in a close game. Crawford saw 26 of those 34 shots through the first two periods. The Flames were clogging things up in front of him, leading to deflections and bounces that Crawford was nevertheless able to corral.

“Early they were getting pucks and traffic and tips and a couple of them hit me in the head there,” Crawford said. “But I think it’s just a matter of being on top and our guys are on the side there to clear rebounds and get rid of anything else.”

The Blackhawks didn’t play their best game on Tuesday but they still won. Credit Crawford for keeping them in there with his early work. Credit the Blackhawks for taking advantage of the opportunities they got late, when the Flames were trying to get back into the game. The outings aren’t always pretty, but getting points nonetheless.

“Today we find a way to win the game,” Anisimov said. “Obviously we played not great. But the PK is working, the power play was working today. Just clicking, you know? Just stay together.”

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: