Blackhawks: Scott Darling gets the start in Game 3


Blackhawks: Scott Darling gets the start in Game 3

Scott Darling’s 42-stop performance in Game 1 earned him plenty of praise and accolades for an incredible relief performance.

That outing, coupled with another rough one from CoreyCrawford, have now earned Darling his first NHL postseason start.

Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll go with Darling when the Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their first-round series at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re going with Darling on performance,” Quenneville said via conference call on Saturday afternoon. “Obviously it’s a tough choice, knowing both had consideration. Scotty’s coming off a spectacular outing and his play is deserving of a start at home. He deserves it based on how we’ll he’s played.”

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Darling came in to start the second period in Game 1 after Crawford allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period that night. He was stellar, making many critical stops while the Blackhawks rallied for a 4-3 double-overtime victory.

Still, Quenneville said choosing Crawford for Game 2 was an easy decision. Crawford got the Blackhawks through some big games this season, especially when Patrick Kane first went down with a fractured clavicle. ButCrawford struggled, in Game 2 more than in Game 1, leading to this choice. Quenneville said after Game 2 that, “we’ll do what gives us our best chance,” so Darling gets the chance.

Darling, speaking prior to Game 2 in Nashville, said he understood why he didn’t play Game 2.

“At the end of the day it’s about winning games and the coaching staff knows a little bit more about winning than I do,” he said. “There’s always a want to start. I’m just thrilled to be a part of it, happy I got any minutes at all.”

It’s been a postseason about-face for Crawford, who ended the regular season with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage (sixth best in the NHL). But Crawford, coupled with a defense that’s still giving up way too much, struggled in Game 2. He allowed six goals on 35 shots.

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Goaltending coach Jimmy Waite told Crawford he isn’t starting on Sunday. Quenneville said will talk to Crawford face to face tomorrow.

“I would expect crow to handle it like a pro,” Quenneville said. “I think he’d be understanding, knowing you have competitive instinct and want to be there. I’m sure he’s probably not happy but can’t say exactly how he handled it.”

Quenneville said he’ll continue to monitor the goaltending on a game-by-game basis. Darling is the Blackhawks goaltender right now. It’s a tremendous opportunity but his work in Game 1 earned it for him.

“When you go to these tough decisions and weigh them, you look at long term. It’s not like [Crawford] is never going to play again. He’s a big part of the team,” Quenneville said. “Things change instantly in our game. Here we are with a chance at a different decision for Game 3. That’s the business we’re in. It’s performance driven a lot of times this one is strictly because Scott’s played outstanding in the series and it’s been the differential.”

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?