Five Things from Game 2: Keith gives Blackhawks shot in the arm

Five Things from Game 2: Keith gives Blackhawks shot in the arm

ST. LOUIS – A split: the Blackhawks made it clear after a close Game 1 that they wanted that heading back to Chicago. They achieved it, albeit in the most interesting ways.

But enough of the lead-in. You’re tired and we have to get up early in the morning to get back home. So before we pack it up for the night, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.

1. A tale of two coach’s challenges. The Blues thought Andrew Shaw interfered with goaltender Brian Elliott on his power-play goal, but officials didn’t see it their way. The goal counted, and the Blackhawks had a critical lead. The Blackhawks also won an offside challenge earlier, taking Vladimir Tarasenko’s would-be goal away. The process isn’t perfect – many, including Quenneville earlier this season, have said they’re not sure what is/isn’t a goal with the goaltender interference challenge. But for this night, at least, the Blackhawks will take the ruling.

2. Duncan Keith’s impact. Everyone knew he’d make one in his first game back from suspension, and he couldn’t have scored his first goal of this postseason at a better time. His goal with 3.2 seconds remaining in the second period gave the Blackhawks life, and their first goal in this postseason. Keith played one tick under 31 minutes, recording four shots a goal and an assist. “He’s a horse back there, so useful in all areas and he’s a threat in a lot of different ways,” Quenneville said. “They scored a big goal for us. That broke the goose egg and we got a big lift off that.”

3. Another great night for the goaltenders. The game may have ended 3-2 but one was an empty-net goal and another was scored with one second remaining in regulation. Both Elliott and Corey Crawford were tremendous again on Friday night, keeping their teams in another closely contested and low-scoring game.

4. Getting the greasy goal. Shaw’s goal was looking like it would be the game winner until Kevin Shattenkirk’s late score gave Artemi Panarin’s empty netter that honor. But Shaw scored the type of goal the Blackhawks are going to need more of in this series: greasy and close on the net. Shaw was there when Keith scored his, too, setting a screen. As Jonathan Toews said of Shaw’s work, “the rest of us can take notes on that. Doesn’t matter who it is, we need guys in front of the net. We had a lot of point shots tonight. Even if they’re going wide, we can get sticks on them, bounces off the end wall. Something’s going to happen when you have guys there.”

5. It’s only going to get better. This series is already pretty intense and that level will grow as the stakes get higher. Listen, whether or not you like the Blues they’re a great foil for the Blackhawks. From hits to great penalty kills to better goaltending, this series has been tremendous through just two games. “Yeah it’s the playoff series already,” Shaw said. “You can feel the intensity and how everyone wants it and how hard everyone’s working. You expect that the rest of the series as well.”

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?