Blackhawks

Corey Crawford, Blackhawks shut down Red Wings

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Corey Crawford, Blackhawks shut down Red Wings

The Blackhawks weren’t too thrilled with how they played through the middle minutes against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

But they’ll take the start and finish.

Corey Crawford stopped 33 of 34 shots and Patrick Kane established a new season high in points as the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings 4-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks remain in first place in the Central Division. The Dallas Stars beat the Ottawa Senators to equal the Blackhawks in points (87) but the Blackhawks have the regulation/overtime victory edge, 40-38.

Kane’s goal, which came 21 seconds into the game, gives him 89 points this season; that tops the previous career best of 88 he set during the 2009-10 season. His 38 goals are also a career high. Crawford’s 35th victory of the season is his new career best.

Artem Anisimov had a goal and an assist while Artemi Panarin had two assists for the Blackhawks. Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews each had goals. For the Blackhawks, it’s always about playing as close to a 60-minute game as possible. That didn’t happen on Sunday, but they got great goaltending and two power-play goals to pace them.

“Kind of comparable in Detroit: I thought we had a good start, they get back in the game with a good second period,” coach Joel Quenneville said of the Blackhawks’ 5-2 victory there last week. “Crow was good again and our special teams were like we saw in Detroit: very good.”

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Yes, the Blackhawks got good work out of their penalty kill and power play on Sunday, and they needed both of them. Keith and Anisimov had the power-play goals – Keith’s shot came from a distance while Anisimov redirected a Panarin shot. The power play was ranked third entering the game, a big difference from the last few seasons.

“It comes with confidence,” Toews said. “I think when you have a stretch where pucks are going in, it just adds to the rest of your power play, what you do with the puck, your breakouts, your entries, retrieving pucks especially off of initial shots that maybe don’t go in in their zone. I think it just trickles down when you’re scoring goals and you’re getting bounces.”

The Blackhawks’ kill nixed all three of the Red Wings’ power-play opportunities. A big part of that kill, as well as the entire second period, was Crawford. When the Blackhawks went quiet through the middle 20 minutes Crawford was stalwart, stopping all 13 shots he saw in the second. The Blackhawks had just three shots in that period.

“We didn’t get any shots any possession in their end at all,” Quenneville said of that second period. “We didn’t give up quality but Crow, I thought he moved the puck well on rebounds and dumps. He was very effective in a lot of ways.”

The Blackhawks have been looking for consistency in their game as they come down the stretch here. They didn’t get the desired amount of that on Sunday but they had exactly what they wanted at the start, and more of it at the finish.

“We want to get better every day and improve our team game and getting a four-line rotation where we’re keeping everyone in the game here. Tonight one group didn’t play as much as we’d like but going forward we’d like to see more balance in the ice time,” Quenneville said. “We want to finish as high as we can. That’s the motivation.”

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

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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?