Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 2: 'Our best game all the way around'

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Five Things from Game 2: 'Our best game all the way around'

Sometimes, it’s all about opportunities. When they present themselves, you have to take advantage of them.

The Blackhawks found that out first-hand on Sunday night when they got several chances via the Minnesota Wild and capitalized, taking a 4-1 victory in Game 2 and a 2-0 lead in this second-round series. From Jonathan Toews’ short-handed goal off a 2-on-0 play to Patrick Kane’s two goals, the Blackhawks took what was given and took off.

Just because they’re up 2-0 doesn’t mean they can relax. The Wild will be angry and determined to even this series at home, where they were very good this season. But before we delve into what could happen in Game 3, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Game 2 victory.

1. Corey Crawford rebounds. Minus an ugly goal from Matt Dumba early in the third period, Crawford was stalwart in Game 2. He always talks confidence but there’s no doubt he was shaken during Game 1, especially with the Wild scoring three times in the first 10 minutes of the second period that night. When the Blackhawks needed Crawford on Sunday, he was there. Big stops on Mikael Granlund and Zach Parise in the second period, not long after the Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead, drew the “Co-rey” chants. “They had a couple of big flurries in the game but Corey was outstanding in those situations,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “He kept the momentum going our way even though they had a couple of good looks.”

[RELATED: Stars shine bright as Blackhawks down Wild in Game 2]

2. Patrick Kane hits another milestone. Well, we’re calling 101 postseason points a milestone, anyway. It’s an impressive number for the 26-year-old, whose two goals on Sunday night have brought him to that total. He was one of several of the Blackhawks stars who had a strong night. Said Patrick Sharp of Kane: "No drop-off from the regular season. If anything he steps it up. It seems like he’s always scoring big goals. He’s a guy who wants the puck on his stick at all times and you love that as a teammate.”

3. Mistakes cost the Wild. When the Wild is playing at their best, they're a tough team to beat. Just look at what they were able to do from mid-January to April to even get to the postseason after an awful start. But the Wild’s miscues on Sunday hurt. Ryan Suter finished the night a minus-3 and Thomas Vanek was a minus-4. Said Wild coach Mike Yeo of his team’s uncharacteristic outing: “We didn’t make those mistakes. I don’t know what team played that game, but it wasn’t us tonight. It was 0-0 through the midway point of the game. We were doing some OK things without the puck to keep it at 0-0, but with the puck, like I said, that’s not us.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the playoff run, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Teuvo Teravainen improving each game. This series is only two games old but the youngster is having a nice showing in it. After recording the game-winner on Friday night, Teravainen grabbed a loose puck and fed it to Patrick Sharp, who scored to restore the Blackhawks’ two-goal lead in the third period. Said Quenneville on Teravainen: “He comes up with a lot of loose pucks. He has good play recognition [and he] made some nice plays off the rush individually and had some decent looks. You like his game both sides, both ways, and he keeps getting better.”

5. Goodbye to Crawford’s black mask. The mask Crawford got for the postseason suffered a costly dent when Marco Scandella’s shot nailed Crawford flush in it on Sunday night. The first concern was obviously for Crawford. He looked a little off not long after that shot but there was no immediate stoppage of play. He stopped a puck or two and then switched masks, going back to his white one, when play was stopped. “Yeah, it was a new one,” said Crawford, who then channeled White Sox play-by-play man Hawk Harrelson. “He gone.”

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?