Blackhawks

Crawford, Hawks edge Red Wings

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Crawford, Hawks edge Red Wings

The Blackhawks were missing their captain and two defensemen entering their matchup against Detroit, a formidable team to face even in optimum health.

But on a night when the Blackhawks needed the team-first mentality the most, they got it.

Jimmy Hayes and Marcus Kruger scored, and Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 32 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings 2-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks have won four in a row and remained in sixth place, three points behind fifth-place Nashville, which beat Vancouver tonight.

Both teams were missing their elite centers. Jonathan Toews is day to day with an upper-body injury for the Blackhawks, while the Wings Pavel Datsyuk is out 2-3 weeks after having knee surgery. And the Blackhawks were still minus defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador.

Despite all that, and a 1-0 deficit early in the first period, the Blackhawks got a hard-working game from everyone to hold off the Wings, who had won six in a row coming into Tuesday.

It just shows you, when were all playing together and everybodys doing the little things defensively -- forwards back-checking hard and being better in our own end and defensemen blocking shots it makes everyones job easier.

Offensively, the contributions came from the Blackhawks youngsters. Hayes, who was recalled on Friday, scored his fifth of the season to tie the game midway through the second. Kruger crashed the net barely two minutes into the third for the game-winner, the first of his NHL career.

Hayes last two games are reminiscent of his strong play when he came up the first time this season.

Its just one of those things, being a big guy, youve got to be in front of the net. The shot got through, (there was) some traffic with Bickell there, and it just popped right on my stick there for a nice tap-in, Hayes said. The atmosphere was huge here. It was a big game for both teams, the one we needed to keep this going in the right direction.

And Crawford took care of his part, too, winning his fourth consecutive game. The Blackhawks No. 1 goaltender has allowed just one goal in each of his last three starts. Coach Joel Quenneville called Crawfords outing rock solid.

Hes been awesome the last couple of (games), said Patrick Sharp, who was stymied several times by Detroits Jimmy Howard. Its a tough position: you get credit when you win and take the heat when you lose. But in our locker room I can tell you we believe in him 100 percent. And to see the way hes working away from games, its definitely paying off.

Crawford said he got plenty of help.

The last 10 minutes of that game they had barely any (shots), Crawford said. Its another good game for us to play when were down for most of it. Again and we just keep playing our game, not trying to do too much to get back. Were playing a simple game, making the plays that we should.

The Blackhawks are playing with the pack mentality. They needed to against a team like Detroit. The losing streak is still in the Blackhawks minds, but more victories like this and itll be a distant memory.

Its a big boost (beating the Wings). Theyre in first place for a reason, Sharp said. That (losing) streak was good for us. Were playing a solid team game now, working hard.

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?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: