Blackhawks end Circus Trip with bitter taste


Blackhawks end Circus Trip with bitter taste

LOS ANGELES – The Blackhawks had played a so-so game on Friday, got down 2-0, yet stormed back to beat the Anaheim Ducks in late regulation/overtime.

On Saturday, they got it handed right back to them by the Los Angeles Kings, a team that’s erased a few Blackhawks leads in past postseason outings.

Patrick Kane scored a power-play goal to set a new point streak for U.S.-born players, but Marian Gaborik scored twice, including the overtime winner, in the Kings’ 3-2 decision over the Blackhawks on Saturday night. The Blackhawks ended their Circus Trip with a 3-1-2 mark, but were just a period away from making that 4-1-1. The Kings, however, had other ideas.

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“Same exact game, opposite way,” said Kane, who now has a 19-game point streak. “It seemed like we wanted to sit back and play it safe, and obviously that doesn’t work in this league. Frustrating when that happens. It would’ve ben nice to get another insurance marker and build off that, but we sat back there and they took it to us.”

The Blackhawks built a 2-0 lead on Kane’s early goal and a second-period score from Niklas Hjalmarsson, who recorded his first goal of the season. But outside of that, this game looked a lot like Friday’s in Anaheim: the home team outplaying the Blackhawks through a good deal of it.

Scott Darling was strong through the first two periods, stopping the Kings’ 20 shots through 40 minutes. But in the third, the Kings finally broke through. Jeff Carter scored 52 seconds into the period and Gaborik tied it with 5:55 remaining.

“It sucks,” said Brent Seabrook, whose turnover led to Gaborik’s first goal. “I thought we played well, played well enough to win. Tough bounce at the end of the third and a lot of chances in overtime; that’s sort of the way the game went.”

Overtime was its usual 3-on-3 frenzied best. Both teams had their grade-A opportunities, with Gaborik breaking away for the winner 2:04 into overtime.

Lost in all of the craziness was Kane setting a new point streak for a U.S.-born player. He shared the previous record of 18 with Eddie Olczyk and Phil Kessel for just one day.

“Yeah, we congratulated him as soon as that happened,” Marian Hossa said. “It’s unique to be part of something special like this. He’s a special player and he’s got the big numbers in front of him.”

[RELATED - Blackhawks: Patrick Kane sets NHL record]

The Blackhawks didn’t end this trip exactly how they wanted. They got eight points out of a possible 12. But they were close to getting that ninth and finishing that much better. They just played too conservative with that lead which, against the Kings, hasn’t been safe in the past.

“I guess it’s natural to do that,” Kane said about sitting back on a lead. “At the same time, a lot of guys have played a lot of games in this league to know that’s not the recipe for success, the way games can turn on a dime. It’s pretty frustrating because going into the third up 2-0, looking like the trip’s going to end on a good note, and couldn’t follow it through.”

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?