Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Crawford in net, Mashinter returns to lineup vs. Avalanche

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Blackhawks: Crawford in net, Mashinter returns to lineup vs. Avalanche

Corey Crawford starts and Brandon Mashinter is back in the lineup when the Blackhawks host the Colorado Avalanche tonight at the United Center.

The Blackhawks’ top three lines have been playing well lately, whether scoring chances have gone in or not. The fourth line – which has been Bickell, Dennis Rasmussen and Ryan Garbutt these past few games – has sputtered, playing few minutes. Coach Joel Quenneville wants to get that line going again.

“That line, just change it up a little bit. That’s the one line that hasn’t played much, been moving some pieces around on that line as we’ve gone along here,” Quenneville said. “We’ve been pretty consistent throughout our lineup, that’s the one line we’re looking for a little bit more balance.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

For Mashinter, it’s just been about being ready for whenever that call does come.

“I think guys in my situation, they’re all pros and it’s a job, so you have to come in and work every day,” he said. “This is my longest time being in the NHL and, as I said when I first got called up here, I’m trying to make the most of it and trying not to take anything for granted.”

With Mashinter’s reinsertion, it looks like Bryan Bickell will once again be a healthy scratch. It’s another tough day in a season that’s been filled with them for the forward.

“Mentally it’s frustrating but we’re on a six-game winning streak, so what can you say,” he said. “We’re winning. That’s the most important thing.”

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.