Blackhawks capitalize in 'low-chance affair' as Crawford blanks Sens


Blackhawks capitalize in 'low-chance affair' as Crawford blanks Sens

Duncan Keith was just trying to get Jonathan Toews’ attention as quickly as possible.

“I was just calling for (the puck) as loud as I could and hopefully Toews would get it to me,” Keith said. “He did, and I just tried to get it on net.”

He did, and it proved to be the game winner.

Keith scored his seventh goal of the season and Corey Crawford stopped 26 shots for his sixth shutout this season as the Blackhawks beat the Ottawa Senators, 3-0, on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have now won three in a row and jumped ahead of St. Louis to second in the Central Division.

Artem Anisimov scored his 15th goal of the season and third in as many games. Andrew Desjardins added an empty-net goal; Desjardins now has four goals and an assist in his last three games.

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On a night when there wasn’t a lot of flow and weren’t a lot of scoring opportunities, the Blackhawks had to take advantage of whatever chances they got.

“Yeah, we’ll take a win,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Certainly it was definitely a low-chance affair tonight, just the opposite of when we saw them in Ottawa, when it was up and down the ice with high quality at both ends. It’s probably the respect of knowing they’re dangerous off the rush, and they’re thinking the same way against us. It was hard to generate any kind of flow or offensive-zone opportunities. Duncs got a nice goal for us and loosened things up a bit.”

Anisimov scored off a Michal Rozsival rebound to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead six minutes into the third period. Desjardins added his empty-net goal with 47.9 seconds remaining in regulation.

“Obviously it’s nice to see Desi get some goals here lately. But any time you get that secondary scoring or guys like Desi chipping in on the offense, it helps our team so much,” Keith said. “Getting that empty-netter was a relief. Otherwise, they still feel they’re in it.”

Crawford, meanwhile, got the 18th shutout of his career. It wasn’t Crawford’s busiest night shot-wise, but one in which his focus was there from start to finish regardless.

“He wasn’t tested early, and sporadically they came at him,” Quenneville said. “But he’s been doing a good job for us.”

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Crawford, who played in his 300th career game on Sunday, said he’s learned plenty in his last few seasons with the Blackhawks.

“Every year that’s the goal is to be predictable, consistent and give your team confidence going into games knowing what they’re going to get,” he said. “That’s definitely an important thing for a goaltender.”

The Blackhawks like how they’re doing as they near the midway point of the season. They’ve had some tricky moments, but they’re finding the right combinations and finding ways to win. They’re also finding each other on the ice at critical times, much like Toews did with Keith on Sunday.

“I don’t think we’re ever really satisfied with where we’re at, but we’ve improved from where we started. Having said that, we know there’s lots more room for improvement in what we want to do as a team and how we need to play,” Keith said. “It’s good there are lots of games left to do that.”

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?