Blackhawks

Five Things: Blackhawks' Hossa gets closer to 500 goals

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Five Things: Blackhawks' Hossa gets closer to 500 goals

DALLAS – Some may want to wince when you say a hockey team is tired.

The Blackhawks needed rest heading into the All-Star break. They were clearly gassed, as evidenced by how they lost some of those pre-break games (please see the 4-0 and 5-0 losses to Florida and Carolina, respectively). The question was: how would they come out of that respite?

So far, they’ve come out of it very well.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

That was evident again on Saturday night when the Blackhawks steamrolled the Dallas Stars 5-1. They widened their Central Division lead – five points over the Stars now – and showed that those couple days off were very valuable.

So before we head home, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Dallas.

1. Artem Anisimov has a stellar night. Folks may still lament the loss of Brandon Saad but there’s no arguing the Blackhawks solved their immediate need for a second-line center in that deal. Anisimov has been great throughout this season, including Saturday night when he had a four-point night (goal, three assists). That included his third shorthanded goal of the season. Be it the second line or special teams, Anisimov has been a great addition.

2. Corey Crawford is pretty good again, too. Crawford’s game was fine in the first period but it was better in the second, when the Blackhawks needed him to be. The Stars were surging and had five shots on goal on a power play early in that period. Crawford stopped those, as well as the other 18 shots the Stars had during the second. The Blackhawks thanked him with two late second-period goals for a 5-1 lead after 40 minutes.

[MORE: Anisimov has four-point night as Blackhawks roll past Stars]

3. Active defensemen. They’ve certainly been on the score sheet a bunch lately. Trevor van Riemsdyk had a 4-on-4 goal – the second defenseman to have a 4-on-4 goal in as many games (Michal Rozsival vs. Arizona) – and Brent Seabrook had a power-play goal, Niklas Hjalmarsson had two assists and Duncan Keith had one. It’s never bad when the guys on the blue line are more involved in the offense.

4. Marian Hossa gets closer to 500 goals. Jonathan Toews had the fancy work on the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, passing the puck to himself through Alex Goligoski’s legs. But when Antti Niemi stopped Toews, Hossa was there to finish the short-handed goal for the 496th goal of his career. It was Hossa’s second goal in as many games. Could he be heading on a streak? If so, No. 500 will be coming very soon.

5. Speaking of Toews… He recorded his 300th career assist on Hossa’s goal. As far as All-Star break rests go, nobody needed it more than Toews, who was fighting an illness going into last weekend. It cost him the game against Colorado – he was suspended that game for missing All-Star festivities – but who cares? The captain is healthy again, and it shows.

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?