Blackhawks: Artemi Panarin adjusting to postseason game

Blackhawks: Artemi Panarin adjusting to postseason game

Last week, Artemi Panarin was asked to compare the KHL and NHL playoffs. He didn’t, because at that point he had no NHL postseason experience.

Now he has a glimpse of what the playoffs are on this side of the pond. It’s a small sample size, for sure, but Panarin now not only knows how fast the NHL playoff game is, but how physically taxing it can be. Still, so far he’s done all right.

Panarin was looking more like himself on Friday night, when the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 to even the first-round series at a game apiece. For Panarin, his adjustment to the NHL’s regular season came fairly fast. And after two games it looks like he’s transitioning to the playoffs pretty quickly, too.

“It's more physical games in the playoffs. It's more responsibility on the ice in playoff games,” Panarin said through Artem Anisimov, who interpreted for him in Saturday’s availability. “I tried to play more responsible in my own end without unnecessary risks in the games.”

While Panarin had more shots in Game 1 than in Game 2 – five on Wednesday, compared to two on Friday – he was more noticeable and played a more all-around game in the second outing. He also added what ended up being the game winner, an empty-net goal that looked like more of a clearing attempt than a shot on goal.

“I thought he did a great job last night; him and [Patrick Kane] had some great looks,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought he had some speed, he had the puck, he was dangerous. Sometimes those guys were willing to unload the puck without looking for a better play, and I think sometimes simplicity between the two of them in a series like this, with them keeping an eye on him pretty tightly, I think that can help him going along.”

Panarin played those regular-season games against the Blues but that was only going to prepare him so much for a playoff series with them. It was going to be more intense, it was definitely going to be more physical. Panarin now knows what the NHL postseason has to offer, and he’s adjusting fast.

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?