Blackhawks close out regular season with OT loss to Blue Jackets


Blackhawks close out regular season with OT loss to Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin have made a dynamic duo throughout the Blackhawks’ season. On Saturday night, they enjoyed a couple of individual great moments.

Kane finalized his hold on the Art Ross Trophy and Panarin cashed in on performance bonuses during the Blackhawks’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. The Blackhawks will most likely face the St. Louis Blues,

Kane and Panarin each had two goals and an assist to cap their stellar individual seasons. Kane finishes the regular season with 106 points to win the Art Ross Trophy, becoming the first American to do so. Panarin, who collected $2.575 million in performance bonuses if he finished top 10 among forwards in at least one of several categories (goals, assists, points or points per game), did so.

Corey Crawford, playing in his first game since March 14, allowed five goals on 25 shots.

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“Yeah, just get the speed [down]. That was a quick game,” said Crawford, who’s been out since mid-March with an upper-body injury. “It’s hard after missing some games to come in but… there are some things I thought I did well and obviously some other things that didn’t go too well. But it’s good to get in there and get a feel for it.”

For coach Joel Quenneville, getting Crawford back in this one was key, regardless of the outcome.

“He was fine. I think I didn’t mind some of the things we did out there today. But getting that game under his belt was the best thing for him and for us. It was a big step,” said Quenneville, who the turned attention to his second liners.

“There was some wow factor with the Bread Man and Kaner tonight that was fun to see,” he said. “They finished the year on an amazing note.”

The two ended the season much as they started it, feeding off each other and supplying plenty of points for the Blackhawks. Panarin finished with 30 goals; he’s the first Blackhawks rookie to do that since Eric Daze (1995-96). Kane said it was nice to see Panarin cash in — literally and figuratively.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Artemi Panarin to cash in on performance bonuses]

“Yeah, excited for him. That’s a great feat. And to be in the top 10 in scoring your rookie season’s pretty special,” Kane said. “I think with him, he’s going to be doing some special things as a Blackhawk down the road hopefully for a long time. It’s been a lot of fun playing with him, getting to know him. He’s a great kid, great personality, and I think the fans will enjoy watching him for a long time to come.”

For Kane, knowing his name will be on this year’s Art Ross Trophy, given to the league’s top scorer, is also special — more so given his nationality.

“It’s something I’ll really enjoy, take pride in playing for the U.S. and being an American kid. It was fun to break the point streak this year, and now to be the first American player to win the scoring title is pretty special in itself, too,” he said. “It was an exciting year and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.”

The Blackhawks are through the regular season. Quenneville expects the team’s injured players — Marian Hossa (lower body), Andrew Shaw and Artem Anisimov (both upper) — to be ready for Game 1, whenever Game 1 is. Kane and Panarin have done some special things this season; now to see what they and the rest of the Blackhawks can do in the postseason.

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?