Blackhawks

Blackhawks storm back to drop Maple Leafs, end three-game skid

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Blackhawks storm back to drop Maple Leafs, end three-game skid

Ray Emery got the call from his coach as the Blackhawks walked off the bench for the first intermission. Corey Crawford was out, he was in.

And over the next two periods, Emery answered that call.

Emery stopped 23 of 24 shots in relief, Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist and Marian Hossa scored twice as the Blackhawks rallied to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks snapped a three-game losing streak and moved back into sixth place with 17 games remaining.

Andrew Shaw, recalled on Monday, scored his sixth of the season. Nick Leddy, who had two assists, took a hit late in the third but coach Joel Quenneville said he was fine.

It looked like the Blackhawks would be down 3-1 to end the first period, but Marcus Kruger scored with 29.5 seconds remaining to cut it to 3-2. The Blackhawks looked at that goal as one of the turning points.

I think it was the goal at the end of the first (that turned the tide), to be honest with you, said Kane, who was stellar on a line with Hossa and Andrew Brunette. You always stress the first minute of periods and the last minute of periods to try to not give up a goal or try and score a goal. It was a huge play, got us back to within one.

Emery took it from there. He was solid throughout and strong in the third period, when the Leafs fired 17 shots at him.

At the end of the day Ray did an outstanding job, Quenneville said. You look back over the year, you get some goalie wins. He was instrumental in us winning tonight.

Emery said it was a tough first for us, and as a guy whos coming off the bench you just want to play solid and give the guys a chance to take games. We played really well defensively the rest of the game and got some goals.

Kane was the catalyst on the other end, tying the game at 3-3 at the time and then later feeding Hossa for his 25th.

I think hes had some games where hes been doing stuff but the puck hasnt gone in. If the goalie makes a save, everybody forgets he had a nice chance and created something for himself, said Duncan Keith, who had an assist, blocked four shots and finished a plus-2. Hes been battling and its nice to see him get rewarded tonight.

Newly acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya got off to a rough start, being on the ice for the Leafs first three goals. But Quenneville switched the pairs, putting Keith and Brent Seabrook together and Oduya with Nick Leddy, and it proved beneficial.

I thought Johnny, the last 40 minutes was excellent, Quenenville said. He did a great job, great gap and had a good stick. I like his patience on the ice. Once we split up the pairs and tried another one, he adapted.

Adapting to the situation; the Blackhawks had to do plenty of that on Wednesday night but they found a way. It wont get easier, but the Blackhawks were reminded that, when necessary, the fight is there.

Were trying to get some wins here, get some points and finish out the season strong. But for sure, were desperate, Kane said. Our goal is to make the playoffs. Once we get in we know we can do some damage.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night:
 
1. Nick Schmaltz returns but sizzle doesn’t.

You didn’t expect the fireworks of the season opener but you figured Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman and Patrick Kane would connect pretty quickly again. The speed was certainly there. The connections on passes were not. It wasn’t just that second line, though: it was another night on which the Blackhawks’ offense was sluggish. 
 
2. Tripping along.

I joked that tripping is the new slashing. Maybe that’s not the case league-wide but it was for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks took five tripping penalties overall, including three in the first period. It was a clear sign that the Blackhawks were trying to play catch-up all night, and they didn’t fare well at it.
 
3. Power play gets something but…

It took until late in the third period (when the Blackhawks’ offense seems to get going lately). The Blackhawks got two late power-play goals, a reminder of what they can do when they battle for the puck and show some spark.

“Our sense of urgency in the puck area, be it 5-on-5 or on the power play, that’s the differential of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and making plays off it is one of our strengths,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t do that very often and we haven’t won many battles.”
 
4. Starting slow.

Why these are happening is a mystery, and they’ve been most evident in the Blackhawks’ last three games, which have all come against division opponents. Too much relying on Corey Crawford again and not much in terms of shots, be it quality or quantity through the first two periods. The Blackhawks were outshot 17-8 through the first 40 minutes on Wednesday. While they created little they gave up way too much.
 
5. Patrick Sharp OK?

Sharp was injured late on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks-Blues game got chippy in the final five-plus minutes. Quenneville thought Sharp was fine but he wasn’t positive at the time of his postgame press conference.

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

ST. LOUIS – The Blackhawks’ first tripping came barely a minute into the game. Then came another one. And another. And another. And another. Despite welcoming one of their fastest players back into the lineup, the Blackhawks were overall flat-footed and playing catch-up all night, be it on the ice or on the scoreboard, to the St. Louis Blues.

Nick Schmaltz returned but the effect on the second line and the Blackhawks overall wasn’t immediate. Instead the Blackhawks looked sluggish. Their offensive opportunities were few – a one and done here and there but no sustained zone time or pressure on Blues goaltender Jake Allen – their passing was off and they were on the defensive all night.

And then there were the tripping penalties. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill held up through it, nullifying all five Blues power-play opportunities. But the Blues found other ways to inflict their damage.

“They played well and we were brutal,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That was a bad start, a bad middle and even [though] it was a little excited at the end it wasn’t very good. That’s as close to brutal as you can get.”

The Blackhawks’ last three games have common themes: they’re outshot for a good part of the game, they’re giving up a good amount of quality shots and then the urgency hits them midway through the third period. For the third consecutive contest the Blackhawks scored two goals late and in two of those three games it wasn’t nearly enough.

“Obviously it wasn’t good enough for two periods. If you take any positives out of this game, it’s the way we played in the third,” Patrick Kane said. “At least we know we can do it. Just gotta do it before our backs are against the wall.”

Why it’s taking the Blackhawks so long to get going, however, is the question. Obviously the Blackhawks’ late third-period pushes show how capable they are of producing when necessary. Said Alex DeBrincat, who assisted on Ryan Hartman’s goal late in regulation, “If we’re would’ve been crashing the net like that all game it may have been a different story.”

But they didn’t. The Blackhawks welcomed back a teammate that’s injected speed into their lineup but the team was once again stumbling out of the gate.

“We’re supposed to be out there, giving our all every minute we’re out there and every shift, go out there and take it a shift at a time and give it all you got every shift,” Hartman said. “We have four lines that can roll so there’s no excuse for not going out there and putting all your energy out there for a shift and getting ready for the next one.”