Blackhawks

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Teravainen fills in well

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Teravainen fills in well

VANCOUVER — The Blackhawks still weren’t playing their best hockey over this weekend. There are still some questions they need to answer, some things they have to shore up before the postseason begins.

Nevertheless, the Blackhawks reversed their negative trend and came away with four critical points, including two in their victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Now it’s on to Minnesota to face a Wild team the Blackhawks haven’t been able to solve this season. But before we head back to the U.S., let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 decision over the Canucks.

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1. They’re in. The Blackhawks wanted to get back in the win column, wanted to start playing better and hoped to clinch a playoff berth this weekend. They ended up doing all of those. The latter is the big one; as much as the Blackhawks have struggled recently and have lost ground in the Central Division, they can at least head to Minnesota knowing they’re headed to the playoffs once again.

2. Penalty kill comes up big. The Blackhawks were holding a one-goal lead when Jonathan Toews was called for a double-minor high-sticking midway through the third. While it had its anxious moments, the kill came through. Two reasons for that: Scott Darling’s stops and Marcus Kruger’s return to the kill. Coach Joel Quenneville was especially pleased with the latter. “That’s what Krugs brings, that intangible,” he said. “You have two penalty killers in the box and you’re down a four-minute kill, so you have to keep going to the well. Darls made a big save late in it, but Krugs out there takes a lot of pride in being in that situation and making sure the penalty kill takes care of business and does the right thing. It’s nice to see him back."

3. Power play is a liability. The Blackhawks only had one power play on Sunday but it wasn’t a good one. They recorded just one shot on that advantage, which came just 21 seconds into the second period. And just like that, the momentum the Blackhawks had built with their great first period seemed to disappear. That is something they saw happen too often when the advantage struggled in previous seasons.

[RELATED: Blackhawks clinch playoff berth with win over Canucks]

4. No Artem Anisimov. The Blackhawks were without their second-line center, who was day-to-day with a lower body injury. Anisimov has struggled the last few weeks, so in his absence Teuvo Teravainen centered Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. It was actually a pretty nice combination, one that resulted in a goal (Teravainen’s) early in the third period. Still, the Blackhawks want their big center healthy and ready to go for the postseason, and it doesn’t sound like his injury is serious.

5. Tomas Fleischmann does it again. When the Blackhawks traded for Fleischmann and Dale Weise, the latter was expected to make the bigger impact sooner. Well, it’s been the reverse. Fleischmann has been great in his short time with the Blackhawks, and he scored his fourth goal with them on Sunday night. Listen, we realize the Blackhawks will have very little cash next season, and signing Andrew Shaw is likely at the top of the list. But if there’s a little change left over and Fleischmann is willing to stay for it… just thinking out loud here.

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

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AP

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?