Blackhawks get back on track with shutout win over Jets


Blackhawks get back on track with shutout win over Jets

By Darrin Bauming contributor

WINNIPEG — Two lightning-quick spurts of offense was more than enough to overpower the Jets on Friday night, as the Blackhawks cruised to a 4-0 win in Winnipeg to snap a four-game losing streak.

Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa scored just 26 seconds apart late in the second, before Andrew Ladd and Tomas Fleischmann added insult to injury in a span of 1:45 in the early stages of the third. Scott Darling turned away all 28 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season.

"It's all we all wanted tonight was a win. That's what we came to do and that's what we needed," said Darling, following his first consecutive game start of the season. "I felt good last game — didn't get the result I wanted, but it was good momentum moving forward. I felt good tonight."

The eventual game-winner came in the second as Kane dashed down the right wing through the neutral zone, out-skating former Blackhawk Marko Dano, before backhanding a roof job past Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec.

On the ensuing shift, Marian Hossa found his 12th of the season on his stick — a rebound off an Artem Anisimov shot that was blocked by Dustin Byfuglien to make it 2-0 at 17:22 of the second.

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"We got a little break there, and a great play by (Kane)," said head coach Joel Quenneville of the game's opening goal. "A great finish. And then (Anisimov) makes a real nice play, turning it and patient, and a fortunate rebound.

"There was really nothing going on. Zero-zero, it looked like we were going in after two (periods), and then to score two at the end was good for us," Kane said. "It gives us some confidence especially playing with a lead. We hung in there. We didn't really make too many mistakes in the first part of the game and we capitalized on our chances."

Former Jets captain Ladd — acquired by the Blackhawks on Feb. 25 — tallied his 20th of the season to make it 3-0 early in the third. The 2010 Stanley Cup champion has now hit the 20-goal plateau five times in his 11-year career. Since re-joining the Blackhawks Ladd has three goals and two assists in the nine games.

"For him to come out and score a goal in a big win for our team I'm sure is a good feeling for him too," Kane said. "It was a good welcome home for him."

[MORE: Be careful in writing the Blackhawks off]

Kane's two-point night puts the NHL scoring leader at 92 points — 12 ahead of the next in line, Dallas' Jamie Benn, who climbed to 80 with a three-point effort on Thursday. Kane's 39th goal of the season proved to be the eventual game-winner — good for second in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin's 42.

Fleischmann's 13th of the season is his third in nine games since joining the Blackhawks.

Darling's victory is his seventh on the year (7-6-2) and his first win since Feb. 15 in Toronto. With No. 1 netminder Corey Crawford still listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered earlier this week, 35-year-old Michael Leighton was recalled from AHL Rockford on Thursday to serve as Darling's backup.

Teuvo Teravainen, who skipped Friday's morning skate was listed as questionable by coach Joel Quenneville due to a lingering illness. But the 21-year-old took pre-game warmups and ended up playing 11:04 centering a line with Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise.

The Hawks — edging to within a single point of St. Louis' 91 points for second place in the Central Division — now return home for two more divisional matchups as they host Minnesota on Sunday and Dallas on Tuesday.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start


Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."