Blackhawks

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews nets game-winning OT goal vs. Sharks

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Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews nets game-winning OT goal vs. Sharks

The Blackhawks preach it constantly. Every team does, really: in this league, you need to get those gritty, up-close-and-personal goals. Drive to the net, get pucks and get opportunities.

And instead of talking about that mantra on Sunday night, the Blackhawks practiced it.

Patrick Kane scored his 21st goal of the season and Jonathan Toews recorded the overtime winner as the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 at the United Center. The Blackhawks have now won seven of their last nine and remain in third place in the Central Division entering Tuesday night’s game against the first-place Dallas Stars.

One player who won’t be headed to Dallas is Marian Hossa. The right wing missed Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury and coach Joel Quenneville said Hossa will hopefully be back for the Blackhawks’ Dec. 27 game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Quenneville said that Hossa’s injury “isn’t serious at all.” Given the upcoming break, it’s just more a good chance to let Hossa rest.

Corey Crawford, who Quenneville picked to start both games this weekend, stopped 33 of 36 for the victory.

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Artem Anisimov scored his 12th of the season, which snapped an eight-game point-less streak for the center. Andrew Shaw added his sixth of the season. What do those two goals, as well as Kane’s and Toews’ have in common? They all came from about five feet within the Sharks’ net.

“There are some chances at both ends,” Quenneville said. “They go to the net hard and traffic at our net, but we need to be more assertive when we go to the net, knowing that’s where the rewards are.”

And for Toews, overtime continues to be aboon. Sunday marked Toews’ third overtime winner of the season.

“You have to be smart, pick your spots and take advantage of the opportunities you get,” Toews said. “Tonight was one of those scenarios where we were able to catch them tired and maybe changing and I think we did a pretty good job of managing that and making sure we have fresh guys on the ice maintaining puck possession even though we might not be attacking with it.”

Crawford did the rest, making some of his biggest stops in the third period when the Sharks outshot the Blackhawks 11-5. Crawford said starting back-to-backs was fine with him – “It’s almost like you don’t lose it at all, playing again that quick,” he said.

“Obviously it was a tough way to start on the first shot, I got deked out of my jock,” Crawford said of Joonas Donskoi’s early goal. “But I stuck with it. I was seeing pucks pretty well. That team has been pretty streaky this year but when they’re playing hard, they’re a tough team to beat. That was a really good hockey game tonight.”

The Blackhawks have been playing pretty good hockey lately. They’re getting great goaltending from Crawford. They’re getting more scoring from everyone. And on Sunday they got the kinds of goals they’ll need the rest of the way.

“I mean, it shows when you get in those dirty areas you find those goals,” Shaw said. “They’re tough to come by. You have to work hard and get dirty once in a while.”

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

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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?