Corey Crawford stellar as Blackhawks beat Predators


Corey Crawford stellar as Blackhawks beat Predators

Corey Crawford usually likes games in which he’s busy. Well, he didn’t have much quiet time on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators, and a busy Crawford was a successful Crawford.

Crawford stopped 36 of 37 shots and Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 23 games with the 600th point of his career as the Blackhawks beat the Predators, 4-1, at the United Center.

Dennis Rasmussen, playing in his first NHL game, scored his first career goal on his first career shot. Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist. Niklas Hjalmarsson had two assists.

The Blackhawks got the goals in the third period, but it was Crawford keeping things steady, especially through the first two periods.

“Yeah, I got in a groove early, saw the puck really well all game and our defensemen, again, were eliminating second chances,” Crawford said. “That makes the goalie’s job so much easier when you only have to stop the first one.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Patrick Kane extends point streak with empty-netter]

Coach Joel Quenneville called Crawford’s outing, “spectacular.”

“He was great,” he said. “We gave up high-quality (chances) tonight. We haven’t given up that kind of quality all year. First period he kept us in there, great in the second and big saves in the third, and all alone on a lot of them, which is unusual for us.”

The Blackhawks are starting to get more balance among their lines. They’re also started to get scoring from people other than Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin. Rasmussen gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with another thing the team needs: net-front-presence goals.

Shaw, who had one of his best games of the season, put the Blackhawks up 2-0 with a power-play goal in the second period. Eric Nystrom gave the Predators their only goal with less than a minute remaining in the second, a shot that went off his skate — but wasn’t kicked in — to cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1.

Then came the Blackhawks’ third-period push beginning with Teravainen, who scored just 14 seconds into the third for a 3-1 lead. It was the second consecutive game Teravainen’s scored an early third-period goal — he scored 21 seconds into the third against Winnipeg on Sunday.

“Good ice. I like to shoot with the good ice in the first part of the period,” he said. “I was still trying to look for the pass first but I had nothing, so I tried to shoot.”

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Then came the empty-net goal for Kane, who Quenneville put out there late for a chance to extend his point streak.

“To be honest with you, I wasn’t thinking about it too much until you go out there in the end there and you hear the crowd cheering and you know they’re looking for something,” Kane said. “That’s when you want to get something at the end.”

The Blackhawks are starting to gain some traction. Their lines look better. They’re getting more balanced scoring. But on Tuesday, it was mainly Crawford’s show.

“I felt pretty good, made a few key saves at key points in the game,” Crawford said. “I just try to build off every game and stay as consistent as I can.”

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?