Blackhawks

Blackhawks prep to see Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Stars

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Blackhawks prep to see Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Stars

The Blackhawks had barely wrapped up their victory over San Jose on Sunday night when the obvious topic came up.

Time to go see Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya, two friends and former teammates who helped win a few Stanley Cups in Chicago and would like to do the same in Dallas with the Stars.

“The two of them are definitely fitting in with that group from the games I’ve been able to watch,” Jonathan Toews said. “Obviously two guys, two players on and off the ice we miss a great deal in this room. At the end of the day, other than Tuesday, we’re happy to see them doing well. But it should be fun to go up against those guys.”

It should be entertaining when the Blackhawks and Stars have their first regular-season meeting on Tuesday night. It’s a matchup of two of the Central Division’s best, one team that’s become a perennial postseason player and the other that’s trying to return to that status.

Current Blackhawks playing former Blackhawks in recent years isn’t a new concept. In the salary-cap era, it’s become commonplace. And considering they’re coming off another Stanley Cup run, the Blackhawks are still the ones targeted.

But at this moment, the Stars are the team to beat.

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“It’ll be a great measuring stick for us, knowing Dallas is the top team in the league,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They’ve got a lot of things going for them. They’re fast, skilled and they attack. We have some familiarity with a couple of guys as well, so it should make for a good finish going into the break.”

Dallas was the first team to 50 points this season, winning with a combination of high-octane offense that Sharp has added to and a defense that Oduya has helped bolster. The Stars lead the league in goals per game with 3.42 a contest. Where they’ve improved the most, however, is in goals against. Last season they allowed 3.13 a game. This season, they’ve allowed just 2.55 a game.

The Blackhawks won’t get a chance to see their former teammates much; the Stars play in Minnesota on Monday night. But the reunion, brief as it is, will nevertheless be a good one.

On the ice, it should certainly be an entertaining one.

“They’re a high-energy team with a lot of speed and skill,” Andrew Shaw said. “So it should be a fun one.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

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AP

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?