Five things from Blackhawks-Wild: Slowed down by penalties


Five things from Blackhawks-Wild: Slowed down by penalties

Remember a few weeks ago when the Blackhawks weren’t generating at much as they’d like offensively and were losing those low-scoring games? Well, those Blackhawks seemed to have returned.

Despite going into the third with a 1-1 tie the Blackhawks came up empty, with Ryan Suter and Minnesota Wild taking a 2-1 decision. It wasn’t the way the Blackhawks wanted to return home but there it is nonetheless. So before they hit the road again, albeit for a much more brief amount of time, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Minnesota.

1. Patrick Kane keeps on going. Again, he’s been the one constant on a team that’s struggled to find many of them. Kane’s power-play goal in the second period gives him a 20-game point streak. If he gets a point against Ottawa on Thursday, he’ll tie Bobby Hull for the franchise’s longest streak (21 games, set during the 1971-72 season). Obviously the streak isn’t foremost on Kane’s mind, but since he’s come this far he might as well at least tie the team record.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

2. Penalty kill works but at what price? The Blackhawks said they were fine heading into the third period, despite killing three consecutive penalties through the final 10 minutes of the second period. Yes, they denied the Wild any goals on any of those power plays. Still, with Kane’s goal coming 5:21 into the second period, the Blackhawks’ penalties stalled any chance they had of capitalizing off that game-tying goal. “Yeah, I mean, you don’t want to take penalties like that. It’s tough to get a lead or do much when we give them penalties a lot of the time and take the momentum we have out of the game,” Duncan Keith said. “We have to stay out of the box for sure.”

3. Not getting much time in the opponent’s zone. This has been another problem for the Blackhawks this season. More than a few times on Tuesday, they’d go into the Wild zone, perhaps get a shot off, then the puck and Wild were going the other way to get ample time in the Blackhawks’ zone. Part of that is the Blackhawks still looking for the right line combinations that can generate things. Which brings us to…

[MORE: Kane extends streak in loss to Wild]

4. Change up the lines again. We’re not sure what will work but, outside of the second line, the other three are once again not working. They were barely working to begin with but the difference between the second line and the other three on Tuesday night was pretty glaring. Since the Blackhawks are coming off a regulation loss, don’t be surprised to see new combinations come Wednesday morning.

5. Getting it together soon. At the start of this season, several Blackhawks said it would probably take 15-20 games to gel. Well, we’re past that threshold. Perhaps it’s taking a little bit longer or perhaps this is going to be a problem for a bit. But as Kane said, “we know what we have to do to win games, whether it’s the veterans or younger guys. We know what we have to do to win games in this league. No excuses.”

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?