Blackhawks set franchise record with 12th straight win


Blackhawks set franchise record with 12th straight win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The mood in the Blackhawks’ locker room didn’t seem any more euphoric than it’s been in any of their previous victories.

Still, there’s no doubt this team realizes it’s doing something pretty special right now – like franchise-record special.

Corey Crawford stopped 38 of 39 shots and the Blackhawks won their 12th consecutive victory when they beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Tuesday night. It was a record night for some individuals as well as the team. Crawford won his career-best ninth consecutive start and Patrick Kane scored his 30th goal, tying a career high – in game No. 49 – he set during the 2009-10 season.

The Blackhawks’ winning streak is a franchise best, eclipsing their previous mark of 11 first set during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. It’s been a heck of a ride, one that has the Blackhawks sitting atop the Central Division with 68 points.

“It’s a great run,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve been starting quick and today we had to weather a good start by them. I thought we were patient with our team game, scoring first and had a couple nice plays on our goals. We defend well in the third, had the lead a lot in this stretch here, which really helped our team game.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Richard Panik scored his second goal in as many games. Artemi Panarin had two assists. Andrew Desjardins added an empty-net goal.

Crawford was stellar once again on Tuesday. The Blackhawks had a 3-1 lead in the third but the Predators pushed and fired 16 shots, all of which Crawford stopped.

“Yeah he’s been amazing. It seems like he has a whole new focus in the net,” Kane said of Crawford this season. “Some nights he looks unbeatable; it’s pretty fun to watch. He’s very underrated as goalies go but we feel we have the best-kept secret with him.”

Not so secret is what the Blackhawks’ second line has done all season and continued to do on Tuesday. Artem Anisimov gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with 21.2 seconds remaining in the first period. And just one minute after the Predators’ Ryan Ellis cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1 in the second, Kane took a Panarin pass for a backhand breakaway and a 3-1 edge.

“I think maybe he saw me before he got the puck there, I was just taking off after the defenseman shot it and he put it right on my stick,” Kane said. “I had to make the move on the breakaway and it was a nice pass by him.”

The second line has been clicking since the start of this season. The Blackhawks as a whole have been doing so since the end of December. It’s led to some special marks, for individual players and the team.

“You can see the chemistry through all the lines, all the [defensive] pairings. We’re just playing the game right, playing with speed and skill and not making too many mistakes, not taking too many penalties,” Crawford said. “I just think everything about our game is working right now.”

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?