Five things from Blackhawks-Ducks Game 6: Shaw's clutch play


Five things from Blackhawks-Ducks Game 6: Shaw's clutch play

At this time of year you need big performances. It doesn’t really matter from whom they come: a role player, a superstar who’s used to doing it all time, whoever.

The Blackhawks got the necessary outings from guys in both those categories on Wednesday night, as they beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 and forced a Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals. So instead of us blathering on during these set-up paragraphs, let’s just cut to the gist and give you Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Game 6 victory.

1. Duncan Keith is a machine. It’s official: he’s not human. The defenseman who coach Joel Quenneville called “a freak” when it comes to his fitness level and ability to get better the longer he plays, Keith was tremendous with a three-assist, plus-3 night on Wednesday. Said Brandon Saad, “being around a few years, it’s something that’s expected, really. He brings it every night and the minutes he logs and the vision he has out there to have a patient game and make those plays you saw on the [Marian] Hossa goal it’s pretty incredible.”

[MORE: Big second period proves to be difference for Blackhawks in Game 6 win]

2. Andrew Shaw’s critical goals. The Ducks had all the momentum in the third period, the one in which there wasn’t a whistle for about eight minutes. They scored early in the third to make it 3-2 Blackhawks, they kept pushing and they kept the Blackhawks on the defensive. Then Shaw scored the first of his two, giving the Blackhawks a 4-2 lead andgiving fans a chance to exhale. “They’re all pretty special,” Shaw said of playoff goals. “They don’t come around too often. You play good in your own zone, those offensive chances are going tocome.”

3. Getting more physical. Anaheim’s a bruising team, and part of their plan is to wear down the Blackhawks with a lot of hits. On Wednesday the Blackhawks hit back, recording 38 hits to the Ducks’ 43. Bryan Bickell had three on one of his first-period shifts. Shaw finished with a team-high seven hits. In our opinion, the Blackhawks don’t want to get into that hit-for-hit game; it’s not theirs. But for one night, they liked giving back what they’ve taken the past few games.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. The “man-child” comes through again. Yes, Brandon Saad is going to get paid handsomely this summer. Saad, who had three goals through his first 13 postseason games, has scored two in his last three contests. Both were the Blackhawks’ first goals of their respective games (4 and 6). Saad’s size and speed have been big factors down this series’ stretch.

5. Confidence heading into Game 7. The Blackhawks have it. Will it benefit them? The Ducks have failed to close inprevious Game 7s but this isn’t the same Ducks team of the past. They’ll be strong and they’ll be ready at the Honda Center, where they’ve lost just one game this postseason (Game 2 vs. the Blackhawks). Still, there’s something to be said for experience. “We’ve had some good games there this year and in the playoffs. But it’s like anything else: it’s one game, and it’s just a matter of going out an executing in the one game,” Keith said. “We have experience being on the road; you try to draw on that as much as you can and do the best you 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?