Blackhawks

Dad's day: Sharp scores OT winner again

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Dad's day: Sharp scores OT winner again

Updated: 9:52 p.m.

For the first 40 minutes the Blackhawks forgot the cardinal rule in playing former goaltender Antti Niemi: shoot at him often, and get traffic in front of him.

They finally did it in the final 25 minutes. And guess what the outcome was.

Andrew Brunette deflected the tying goal with 66 seconds left in regulation, and Patrick Sharp scored on the doorstep with 33.2 seconds remaining in overtime as the Blackhawks came back to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Sunday night. It was the Blackhawks second straight victory and fourth in their last five games; and Sundays victory came thanks to those greasy, hard-working goals.

You look at all the goals, theres somebody at the net, coach Joel Quenneville said. We didnt have any pace first 40 minutes. They dictated the game and we had more urgency and zone time in the third. You have to score with traffic. If (Niemi) sees pucks, hes very effective.

The Blackhawks languished in the first 40 minutes against the Sharks, who despite playing Saturday night in St. Louis looked fresher and were active offensively. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, managed just 13 shots in the first two periods. Niemi did have his brilliant stops, including one on Viktor Stalberg early and a stunner against Marian Hossa on a later power play.

And if not for another great night by Ray Emery, the Blackhawks wouldnt have even been within one goal entering the third period. But thanks to his stopping 35 of 37 shots 33 of those shots coming in the first two periods the Blackhawks had a chance; and he had his 100th victory of his career.

Emery said the momentum swing was evident in the third, when the Blackhawks outshot San Jose 16-3.

You could kind of feel it on the bench. We thought we had a pretty good chance to score in there, Emery said. The way we played the whole period we had a lot of chances and it felt like we were about to score at any time.

The equalizer came from Brunette, who, parked in front of Niemi, deflected Hossas shot past him to send it to overtime. And then it was Sharp, whose newborn daughter and wife came home from the hospital earlier in the day, shoving a Hossa rebound past Niemi for his second game-winning goal in as many contests.

Its easy to kind of turn things off when you come to the rink, but I thought I was a space cadet for the whole game and then I was able to bounce one in there for the winner, so I got lucky, Sharp said. Ill be much better on Wednesday.

Taking shots and getting traffic. Theyre two pretty good recipes for success against any goaltender.

Its all because you have someone in front of the net and youre shooting pucks with traffic, Quenneville said. Sometimes it doesnt have to be pretty.

Late punches

Marian Hossa wasnt too happy when San Jose left wing Ryane Clowe started hitting him from behind at the end of regulation on Sunday. Hossa and defenseman Colin White where shoving each other when Clowe came in.

I just tried to shoot the last couple of seconds, (White) gave me a couple of whacks so I returned them and somebody kept hitting me from behind, Hossa said. You try to not pay attention to it but the hits keep coming. I just turned around and told him, Dont be a coward, hitting from behind."

Hossa would set up the game-winner, but he said he put the late-regulation fracas out of his mind.

I think that tying goal gave us lots of energy and I didnt care what happened at the end, he said. We had more jump the last few minutes. It was a great job by Sharpie staying in the crease to get the winning goal.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Florida Panthers Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

(Reminder: Use #AskEdzo on social media and your questions may be answered by Eddie Olczyk, who will be in studio along with Adam Burish, Brian Campbell and Pat Boyle).

1. Another fast start coming?

The Blackhawks had one of their best starts of the season Wednesday in Tampa Bay, and the numbers favor Chicago to dictate the pace of play early again.

The Panthers are tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the fewest goals scored in the first period (13), and have taken a lead into the second period only four times (3-1-0) in 21 games. They are 2-7-1 in the 10 games they've trailed after the opening frame.

The Blackhawks, on the other hand, are tied for fourth when it comes to first-period goals (22) — albeit, five of them came on Opening Night against Pittsburgh — but they are just 4-2-2 in eight games when leading after one period. In fact, they took a 2-0 lead into the second in their most recent game against the Lightning and lost in overtime 3-2.

So while a fast start could certainly be in the cards, the finish must also be there.

2. Take advantage on special teams.

The Panthers are one of two teams ranked among the bottom six in both power play percentage (26th at 16.0) and penalty kill percentage (30th at 73.2).

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are coming in hot in both areas. They're 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) on the man advantage in their last four games, and own the fourth-best penalty kill unit (84.8 percent).

This is the area to exploit for the Blackhawks going into the matchup, and it could decide the game.

3. Feed Lance Bouma!

In his seventh season, Bouma has faced every NHL team at least five times in his career, with the exception of Vegas (pointless in one game this season).

Bouma is not known for his offensive prowess (72 points in 325 career games), but it's a different story when he plays Florida.

In six career games against the Panthers, Bouma has one goal, six assists and a career-high plus-8 rating. That one goal also happens to be one of his six career game winners.

Florida is the only team Bouma is averaging at least a point-per-game against for his career, so you know what that means: Feed No. 17!

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.