Blackhawks beat Sharks in one of season's best outings


Blackhawks beat Sharks in one of season's best outings

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Andrew Desjardins’ early season with the Blackhawks has been a bit frustrating.

He was recently put back into the lineup after being scratched for three consecutive games and, entering Wednesday’s game against his former tam, was still looking for his first point of the season.

His second trip back to San Jose proved to be a happy one.

Desjardins scored his first goal of the season and Patrick Kane extended his career-high point streak to 17 games as the Blackhawks beat the Sharks, 5-2, on Wednesday night.

Duncan Keith scored his third goal of the season and the 78th of his career, moving him past Pierre Pilote to fourth all-time among Blackhawks defensemen. Jonathan Toews added his eighth of the season. Andrew Shaw (empty net) and Brent Seabrook also scored. Corey Crawford stopped 27 of 29 shots in the victory.

Kane’s point streak is now a career-high 17 games. He’s one away from tying the mark set by a U.S.-born player (18 games held by Eddie Olczyk and Phil Kessel) and four away from tying the franchise mark, set by Bobby Hull (21 games in December 1971 and January 1972).

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Desjardins had been frustrated with the chances he has had this season, none of which resulted in goals or points. So his happiness — and perhaps his relief — was noticeable when he did score on Wednesday.

“I think you could tell in my reaction,” Desjardins said with a smile. “I’m not much for cellies. I just kind of yelled as loud as I could, I think. It felt good. It was a long time coming in a way, too, with the chances that I’ve had. It felt awesome.”

The Blackhawks were looking to build off their game in Vancouver, one in which they thought they did a lot right but lost. Wednesday’s game in San Jose, against a Sharks team that had won all six games on their recent road trip, was one of the Blackhawks’ best outings of the season.

“We just talked about that, maybe on the road it was our best complete game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a good game in Vancouver with nothing to show for it. Today we got rewarded. Good back-to-back efforts as far as playing the right way, doing a lot of good things.”

The Blackhawks got the desired start, with Seabrook and Toews goals putting them up 2-1 after one. Kane’s primary assist on Seabrook’s goal extended his point streak about nine minutes into the game. Kane was a lot happier with his game, as well as that of his line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov, Wednesday night.

“It seemed like we didn’t pay too many shifts in our end as a line, and we had more control of the puck, too,” said Kane, who added he’s not thinking about the point streak as much as he is playing the right way. “You’re always looking to build off performances, I thought it was a step in the right direction.”

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Keith’s goal, which looked like a harmless shot from along the boards, put the Blackhawks up 3-1. Patrick Marleau made it interesting with his eighth goal of the season, which cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-2 with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation. But just 67 seconds later, Desjardins’ goal re-established the Blackhawks’ two-goal lead.

Desjardins wanted to capitalize on the chances he’s gotten. The Blackhawks wanted to build off the pre-Las Vegas portion of their Circus Trip. They all got what they were looking for on Wednesday.

“Our start was awesome,” Desjardins said. “I thought our puck-possession was good. Obviously they had a few flurries in the game, but I think that’s part of it, right? (You’re) not just gonna have the tide going your way the whole game. Yeah, I thought we played a pretty good all-around game, for sure.”

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: