Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to a Game 4 win over Nashville


Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to a Game 4 win over Nashville

1. Play the speed game. 

I really liked the way the Blackhawks started the game on Sunday afternoon.  Even though they had to kill a penalty 53 seconds in, they did it with quick feet and quick sticks.  Marian Hossa had a great chance shorthanded with a burst of speed up the ice, and Johnny Oduya used an active stick and great clears to deny the Predators any shots on their first power play.  Nashville had had 16 power play shots in the first two contests.  The knowledgeable United Center crowd loved it and the Hawks got the early momentum.  Keep playing the quick north/south game.

[MORE HAWKS: Hossa off to strong postseason start]

2. Get pucks deep and get them back. 

Nashville has a big hole in the back end with the injury in Game 2 to Shea Weber.  The Hawks took advantage of this by getting pucks deep and getting them back with a very effective fore check.  You really have to place dump ins on the Preds because Pekka Rinne is an active goalie who likes to hunt down dump ins and play them to his defensemen.  Chicago did a great job of keeping dumps away from the goalie, and got on the defenders quickly so that they couldn’t get turned up ice.  It’s very hard to make a good outlet pass when you have somebody sitting in your back pocket trying to put you through the boards.    

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Our goalie has to top their goalie. 

Looking at the games that have been played so far in this series, the better goalie has gone on to win the game.  After Corey Crawford stumbled out of the gate in Game 1, Scott Darling came in to steal the show, and the game, in Nashville.  A solid performance in Game 2 gave Pekka Rinne his first win of the post season.  Game 3 belonged to Darling, and Rinne looked uncomfortable at times even when he was making saves.  The Blackhawks have been outshot 126 to 98 in the 3 games so far and even though the Blackhawks hold the edge in star power, the Predators hold the edge in shots.   We know Rinne is capable of winning a game by himself, but it’s been the play of Darling that has the Blackhawks up by one in the series.    

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?