Blackhawks clinch playoff berth with win over Canucks


Blackhawks clinch playoff berth with win over Canucks

VANCOUVER — The Blackhawks wanted Andrew Ladd back because of the impact he made during the 2010 Stanley Cup run and what he could do this postseason.

He certainly did his part to help them secure that playoff berth this weekend.

Ladd scored the game-winning goal with 2:27 remaining in regulation as the Blackhawks guaranteed another place in the playoffs with their 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Ladd had four points this weekend — his 23rd goal of the season tonight and two goals and an assist in a 4-1 victory over Calgary on Saturday night. It’s what the Blackhawks envisioned when they reacquired him at the deadline.

“Yeah, love the way he played the last couple of games,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Ladd. “He brings that presence, got some pace to his game, has some energy. He was rewarded with some huge goals for us.”

The Blackhawks remain in third place in the Central Division with 95 points. Nashville, idle tonight, is in fourth with 91 points.

Scott Darling collected his second victory in as many nights, stopping 26 of 28 shots. Teuvo Teravainen scored his 13th goal of the season and Tomas Fleischmann scored his fourth since the Blackhawks acquired him from the Montreal Canadiens. Trevor van Riemsdyk had two assists.

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On Sunday, that top line of Ladd, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa probably looked its best since being assembled. They, as well as the rest of the Blackhawks, got off to a strong start in this one. And Ladd was rewarded at the end, as he took the pass from Toews to give the Blackhawks the victory.

“I figured as soon as [Toews] got the middle there, probably open up a lane on the back side and I just tried to find a spot and get ready to shoot one,” Ladd said. “Luckily I got a pretty good shot off.”

The Blackhawks had two previous leads in this one, first thanks to Fleischmann and then to Teravainen, who was the beneficiary of a pretty tic-tac-toe from Patrick Kane to van Riemsdyk to him.

“I just found myself in a good spot there and I just gave it to Teuvo,” van Riemsdyk said. “He made a nice shot, just put it under the bar.”

Darling, meanwhile, was good once again. He was critical when the Blackhawks had to kill off Toews’ double-minor high-sticking midway through the third period and he later made a diving glove save on an Alex Burrows shot.

“He was our best player both games,” Ladd said of Darling. “A lot of times, especially in those big penalty kills, he has to come up with big saves. He’s played great for us the last little bit.”

The Blackhawks played better this weekend. They got four much-needed points and may be betting some confidence back. But the Blackhawks aren’t just happy with getting into the postseason. They want to hone their game down the stretch and continue to build off what they did in Western Canada.

“All of these games are valuable right now,” van Riemsdyk said. “We’re just working our way to playing the right way, kind of building momentum that way. We know the importance of every night and we’re trying to make use of every game.”

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?