Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Patrick Kane tallies shootout winner in return to Buffalo

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Blackhawks: Patrick Kane tallies shootout winner in return to Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The boos Patrick Kane heard from the hometown crowd when he had the puck at times were a bit surprising, but Kane didn’t mind.

“I’ve been at a lot of games in this building when I was a younger kid. I remember them booing Eric Lindros when he was on Philly. He got thrown out of the game with 10 minutes left and it wasn’t fun anymore to watch the game because no one was booing him,” Kane said.

By the end of Saturday afternoon’s game, Buffalo Sabres fans had even more reason to boo Kane.

Kane scored the tying goal on a 6-on-3 power play with 33.5 seconds remaining in regulation, then scored the shootout winner in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over the Sabres. The Blackhawks have now won four of their last five games.

Corey Crawford stopped 26 of 28 shots in overtime and regulation, and all three of the Sabres’ shootout attempts, for the victory. Dennis Rasmussen scored his third goal of the season.

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For Kane, it was a successful return home.

“Yeah, it was exciting,” he said. “We made it a little tough on ourselves to make it come down to the end there. Didn’t have a power play all game and we got two there at the end. It was nice that we took advantage of it. Great pass by the Bread Man [Artemi Panarin] there and nice to finish it off and tie it up; but [it was] definitely a special ending.”

It wasn’t looking like the Blackhawks would get any points out of this one. It wasn’t their best game, as they were quiet after Rasmussen gave them a 1-0 lead 6:04 into the game. Ryan O’Reilly scored with 3:20 remaining in regulation and the Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead into the waning minutes.

Then things got weird. Josh Gorges tripped Kane and Rasmus Ristolainen was called for high-sticking with 3:33 remaining in regulation, giving the Blackhawks a 5-on-3. Crawford came off with about a minute remaining in thegame to give the Blackhawks the rare 6-on-3. And with just one second left on the advantage, Kane took the pass from Panarin and scored.

“[Coach Joel Quenneville] was signaling me to be ready so I guess he figured if we had nothing going in the first minute there, then he would take me out,” Crawford said. “Good patience by Arty there in front of the net to get it to Kaner. He doesn’t miss too many of those in the open net.”

[MORE: Patrick Kane makes history in Blackhawks win over Sabres]

Quenneville admitted it was a risk to pull Crawford on the 5-on-3 – the Sabres just missed an empty-net opportunity wide once he left. But the risk paid off.

“You’re down a goal, not a lot was happening in that first minute. It’s nothing you ever practice, let’s put it that way,” Quenneville said. “We don’t practice 6-on-3 but I liked the guys we had on the ice.”

No, it wasn’t the way the Blackhawks would’ve drawn this one up. They’ll take the way it ended. So will Kane, boos included.

“I’m on the road team, they’re cheering for the Sabres. Nothing you don’t expect,” he said. “And sometimes that stuff kind of gets you into the game a little more, too.”

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

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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

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USA TODAY

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."