Five Things from Game 2: Big minutes from big defensemen


Five Things from Game 2: Big minutes from big defensemen

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Overtime games: they are not for the faint of heart.

Sometimes they drag, each team so afraid to make a mistake that each plays very cautious. Other times they’re riveting, as Tuesday night’s Game 2 against the Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks was. But as the Blackhawks have done often in the past, they found a way to win a lengthy game. So before we call it a morning, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 triple-overtime victory.

[MORE: Blackhawks outlast Ducks in longest game in franchise history]

1. Don’t be pretty; just be there. It’s overtime: nobody is going to score a gorgeous goal. At least the odds aren’t in your favor. And despite the fact that he’s not known for a lot of scoring, there was something very appropriate about Marcus Kruger getting the game-winner. It was the type of goal that a blue-collar player would score, right near the net, with the puck hitting off his glove and then off his stick, and he did.

2. Well, at least he used his head. Following the game, Andrew Shaw could laugh about his disallowed head-directed goal from the second overtime. Still, it was humorous to see. Turns out, there are two NHL rules that say you can’t do that — hey, if you’re going to score a disallowed goal, get every nullification you can get. Said Shaw, “everyone’s always telling you to use your head when you’re out there. I just went and did that.”

3. Tremendous night for Corey Crawford. It was a goaltender’s night, regardless of team. But what an outing for Crawford, who stopped a career-best 60 of 62 shots he faced. The Ducks hit a few crossbars in the third period and overtimes, but Crawford got just about everything else. Said Crawford about some of those close calls, “there’s no real time to really think about [that]. Maybe when the play stops. It’s coming back again, so quick. I wasn’t really thinking. There were a few I thought might have trickled in but I don’t know. It’s a good win.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Big minutes for big defensemen. OK, it was a triple-overtime game, so the time-on-ice for some was going to be staggering. The Blackhawks’ top four defensemen played 46 minutes (Johnny Oduya) to nearly 50 (Duncan Keith). That’s a lot and not surprising, given the lengthy game and how much we knew the Blackhawks would rely on those two with defensive changes. Coach Joel Quenneville, immediately after the game, wasn’t concerned. “One of those games the minutes look skewed, but it is what it is,” he said. “It’s a good test. But I think our team’s gone through that more than once and [will be] ready to get right back at it.”

5. Ducks bring the hit parade. The Ducks — again, a big number for a long game — were credited with 71 hits in Game 2. Their physical game was especially evident in the second period, when they were hitting everything in a Blackhawks uniform. Kimmo Timonen felt the brunt of several big hits. How will these hits affect the Blackhawks, especially those top four defensemen, as this series continues? That remains to be seen.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak


Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.