Former Senators shine in Blackhawks' 'biggest win'


Former Senators shine in Blackhawks' 'biggest win'

OTTAWA, Ontario The writing was on the wall as the Blackhawks embarked on their latest road trip. They havent been very good away from the United Center, and if they want to do anything in the postseason including get there that had to change.

They took a big stride there on Friday night.

Marian Hossa scored the game-winner for the second consecutive game and Ray Emery stopped 25 shots against his former team as the Blackhawks beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 at ScotiaBank Place. The Blackhawks won their second in a row and remained in sixth place in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks got everything they needed on Friday night, from strong goaltending to great defense to timely goals. They peppered Senators goaltender Robin Lehner with 39 shots, overcoming a 1-0 deficit in the process.

We said to the guys after the game, Thats our biggest win. Its exactly what we wanted, coach Joel Quenneville said. We had everybody going, we had short shifts, had good energy and purpose. We needed a great start to this trip and thats the type of game we wanted.

Patrick Kane, who didnt make the score sheet despite a tremendous game by him and fellow top-liners Andrew Brunette and Hossa, nevertheless loved the outcome.

Thats probably everything you can ask for as a team and we probably couldve scored a couple more goals, too, Kane said. Were shaping up to be a good team. We just have to stay focused.

The top line had plenty of that on Friday, and how they didnt end up with a couple of goals is credit to Lehner and, perhaps, some tough luck.

They missed some A-plus-plus-plus chances, but youve got to love their puck possession and threat off the rush, Quenneville said. It was a dangerous line two games in a row. The finish wasnt there but we loved the way they played.

While the skill was tallying the shots on one end the Blackhawks defense was stymying the Senators on the other. Between the checking line and defensemen, the Blackhawks kept the Senators at bay.

We put tons of pucks at their net, got our chances and did things the right way and really limited their chances, said Emery. We protected our lead well, really let them make their mistakes and still got chances. Its important we won but more important that we won the right way.

Emery took care of the rest, saving some of his biggest stops for the final few minutes when the Senators were looking for an equalizer. Emery felt a little sentimental in returning to Ottawa, but put those feelings aside once the game began.

I played here for a while and had some great times and I still have some good friends on the team, he said. But I realize it was a huge game for the team. Were in a tough spot as far as the playoff battle goes. You have to forget that stuff and focus on the game.

The Blackhawks got a little bit from everyone on Friday. Most important, they got the type of game theyre going to need this spring, especially on the road. On their last multi-game road trip of the regular season, it was an excellent start.

We expect better on the road, Emery said. And its a goal of ours, especially on this trip, to correct that and put that to rest.

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

For the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks officially will not be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at the United Center, the Blackhawks will be sitting at home mid-April instead of looking to add to their trophy case.

Exactly 366 days before, the Blackhawks actually became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth, also the result of a game against the Avs:

The last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs, Denis Savard was the coach and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were just 19 years old in the midst of their rookie seasons.

The next year, Joel Quenneville took over as coach after four games and led the Blackhawks all the way to the Conference Finals.

Of course, the following year (2009-10 season) brought the first of three Stanley Cups.

For perspective on how incredible this stretch has been for the Blackhawks, here's how the other professional Chicago sports teams spent 2008:

—The Bears finished 9-7 in Matt Forte's rookie year (he's since retired) with Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback and Lovie Smith as head coach.

—The Cubs led the National League in runs scored en route to a 97-win regular season...before falling flat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Lou Piniella was still the manager and Theo Epstein was still three years away from coming to Chicago.

—The Bulls found some incredible luck, pulling the No. 1 overall pick and selecting Chicago native Derrick Rose. He helped the Bulls to a 41-41 season as a rookie under coach Vinny Del Negro.

—The White Sox lost to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS after winning the AL Central under manager Ozzie Guillen. Carlos Quentin enjoyed a breakout season (36 HR, 100 RBI) while Gavin Floyd won 17 games. 

The Blackhawks still have eight games left before the 2017-18 season ends April 7.

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

For Alex DeBrincat, it was probably nice to hear Chelsea Dagger again.

But how about three times?

The 20-year-old rookie snapped out of a 13-game scoring drought in a big way on Sunday night, recording his third hat trick of the season. DeBrincat did all he could to help give the Blackhawks two points, but they only came away with one in a 5-4 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.

DeBrincat is now the first rookie in franchise history with three hat tricks in the same season, passing Steve Larmer. His last two hat tricks came against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 27, 2017 and Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 25.

"It's pretty cool," DeBrincat said of his third hat trick, "but I wouldn't be able to do that without the guys we have in this locker room and the linemates I've had. Most credit to them."

Entering Sunday, his last goal was on Feb. 17 against the Washington Capitals.

"Obviously it's frustrating when you go through a slump that like that but what I've learned is to stay positive and there's other things you can help your team win with," DeBrincat said. "Just kind of focus on those things."

He netted goals No. 23, 24 and 25 on the season, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead. He is also tied for second among goals scored by a rookie this season.

DeBrincat opened the scoring with nice wrist shot on the power play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. With less than a minute to go in the period, he tapped one home in front of the net to make it 2-0.

In the third period with the game tied at 3-3, DeBrincat put his team in front 4-3 with 3:13 left in regulation. 

“We were talking about [DeBrincat] today, it had been a while since he had scored," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But whether he scores or not, he does a lot of good things in the game, and he’s very aware of his positioning, and doing the right things, finding pucks, getting in shooting lanes, or denying passing lanes. So he’s effective in a lot of ways, but nice to see him score a nice power-play goal today.”

But Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo even things up again after a shot from the point found its way past J-F Berube with 1:22 left. Patrik Berglund would net the game-winner in overtime to hand the Blackhawks a loss.

"I feel like we’ve played well and we just came up a little bit short," DeBrincat said. "I feel like that’s been the theme of this whole season.”