Blackhawks can't solve Frederik Andersen, Ducks in Game 1


Blackhawks can't solve Frederik Andersen, Ducks in Game 1

ANAHEIM, Calif. – This game is all about the bounces. It’s all about the work ethic. And it’s about taking advantage of the opportunities.

On Sunday, the Anaheim Ducks made the most of the latter. The Blackhawks did not.

Kyle Palmieri scored the game-winning goal off a Blackhawks miscue in the second period and the Ducks would score two more in the third as they beat the Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Game 2 is Tuesday night at the Honda Center.

It’s the first time the Blackhawks have trailed in a series this postseason.

Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped 32 of 33 shots for the victory. Corey Crawford stopped 23 of 26 in the loss.

[MORE: Five Things from Game 1 - Blackhawks need more traffic again]

As far as skating, hitting and shooting, neither team looked very rusty after their lengthy layoffs. But both the Blackhawks and Ducks made their share of errors. The Ducks struggled with passes and turnovers in the first period, when the Blackhawks outshot them 16-7. Andersen stopped all 16, including a stunning stick save on Patrick Kane.

“I thought I did everything right on the play. He just had his stick there,” Kane said. “If I would have put it along the ice I would have had a better chance of scoring there. It would have been nice to get that chance and bury it to give us the lead.”

The Ducks did just that. After a failed David Rundblad clear near the blue line, Hampus Lindholm scored to give the Ducks a 1-0 edge. Rundblad had another turnover early in the second. The Ducks turned that into a goal, too, with Palmieri scoring his first of the postseason for a 2-0 lead.

It was a tough start for Rundblad, who was playing in his first NHL postseason game.

“You don’t want to be on the ice when they score. Defensively, you look at the plays, we want to make sure we’re making safe plays and good pays and easy exits,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “A couple of those we could do differently.”

Still, there was plenty of time for the Blackhawks to recover. Brad Richards, off a Francois Beauchemin turnover, scored with 39.6 seconds remaining in the second period to cut Anaheim’s lead to 2-1.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Richards’ goal gave the Blackhawks momentum going into the third – or at least it seemed it should have. But between the missed power-play opportunities, Andersen’s great game and another error leading to another Anaheim goal – Duncan Keith’s overaggressive play on which Jakob Silfverberg eventually scored – the Blackhawks couldn’t come up with anything.

“Yeah, there are always going to be giveaways, always going to be chances both ways. They seemed to bury them. They didn’t make mistakes burying them,” Richards said. “It happens sometimes. But take away the score, we have to play more of a 60-minute effort, and play a lot more like we did in the first, throughout the game.”

The Blackhawks had their chances on Sunday. They’re usually a team that capitalizes when given those – just look at the Blackhawks’ series against the Minnesota Wild. But the Ducks are here for a reason: they’re pretty good in their own right. And on Sunday, they were best in the finishing department.

“We expected them to be a good team. I don’t think by any means did we come in and expect to steal and take wins from them,” Kane said. “It’s going to be a fight for us. We have to realize that and realize this is the best team we’ve faced yet.”

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?