Blackhawks

Hawks continue winning ways despite injuries

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Hawks continue winning ways despite injuries

Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010
8:26 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks arent going to worry much about style points. They dont need fancy and they dont need dazzling right now. They just need points.

So taking that team mentality in against a Los Angeles Kings squad that wasnt allowing much, the Blackhawks got just enough.

Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Fernando Pisani scored and Corey Crawford stopped 26-of-28 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Kings 3-2 at the United Center on Sunday night. It was their second consecutive victory and a gritty one, as the Blackhawks were once again without three forwards -- coach Joel Quenneville was hopeful that Marian Hossa and Viktor Stalberg could play Wednesday vs. Nashville.

While Sundays victory may have not as been as snazzy as their triumph over Detroit on Friday, it was just as effective.

Well take it, Quenneville said. This was a tough game tonight. Two of their last three games on the road (the Kings) won by five, so we knew we had a dangerous opponent that was playing well. We did what we had to do.

The Blackhawks clogged lanes and made it harder for Kings netminder Jonathan Quick to see shots. Troy Brouwer epitomized that, getting around Quick on both Toews and Keiths goals.

Its something we preach a lot; we try to emphasize going to the net. If the goalie sees the puck were not going to score, Quenneville said. Brouw was good. I thought that line had a big night as well. You get rewarded when you go to the net and it can lead to quality goals. It doesnt have to be pretty.

Toews laser gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. Kyle Clifford scored early in the second period to tie it for the Kings, but Keith answered just 25 seconds later to put the Blackhawks up 2-1 and stall Los Angeles momentum.

Anytime you can get a goal right back like that its big for your team, said Toews, who also assisted on Keiths goal. I think one way or another, were going to find a way tonight, whether we had a lead early on or not. We knew the situation we were in.

Pisanis goal proved to be the game-winner. Patrick Sharp had two assists. Crawford came up big on several Kings shots en route to his second consecutive victory. The Blackhawks helped him out, too, blocking 22 shots Brent Seabrook had a team-high five blocks.

When you limit their quality chances, its going to be better for him and for all of us, said Keith, who played just over 23 minutes and was a plus-2. He did a good job tonight again.

No, it wasnt dazzling. But be it pretty or the hard-hat approach, the Blackhawks dont care how they get two points, as long as they get them.

Obviously thats the way we expect to play, and the way we know we can play every single night, Toews said. Going into every game now, we just have to remind ourselves that its much more enjoyable when everyone plays the way we did tonight, and when everyones prepared the way we have as a team the last couple games. Were going to have way more fun, especially in our own building.

Briefly

Jassen Cullimore cleared waivers Saturday afternoon and played for the Blackhawks on Sunday night. Quenneville said he talked briefly to the veteran Cullimore about the decision. When youre in the middle of that, its something thats tough to comment on. Afterward, seeing different decisions made, its more a business decision than hockey decision. You dont want to read too much into it and look ahead. Hes good about it. Hes a good pro. I liked his game the other night in that situation.

While Hossa and Stalberg skated on Sunday morning, Patrick Kane (left ankle) did not. Quenneville said the last couple times (Kane) was on the ice, he didnt get through practice. Well give him a little time here.

The Blackhawks had 35 hits against the Kings; Brouwer was credited with a team-high seven, followed by Seabrook with five.

Bryan Bickell had an assist on Sunday, giving him points in six of his last seven games (4 goals, 3 assists).

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.

Anton Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they need

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USA TODAY

Anton Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they need

Anton Forsberg had just finished an extended morning skate Wednesday morning in St. Louis. The backup goaltender had played in one regular-season game for the Blackhawks to that point, so getting in extra work to stay sharp was helpful.

“I try to keep my focus in practice and work extra every day, get a few extra shots in practice with the extra guys who are out there, work with Jimmy and try to keep my game shape,” Forsberg said, referring to Blackhawks goaltending coach Jimmy Waite.

Whatever Forsberg’s working on in practice and skates seems to be working, because in two games with the Blackhawks he’s looked sharp. Forsberg probably deserved a victory on Thursday night when he stopped 40 shots in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers. It’s the backup life to wait and see when that next start will come, but Forsberg has been ready.

“For sure I felt more comfortable today, more used to the speed,” he said following Thursday’s game. “I felt I read the game better, felt I had more time moving around. It’s tough, again, to lose in overtime. Obviously I wanted to win and it’s frustrating.”

Frustrating for sure, but Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they want and need: a dependable backup that gives them a chance to win. The two goals Forsberg gave up on Thursday weren’t softies, either — Patrick Maroon’s goal off a ridiculous Connor McDavid pass and Mark Letestu’s over game-winner that deflected off Brent Seabrook’s stick.

“He kept us in a tight game like he did in Toronto, got us to overtime. I kind of feel bad we didn’t get him a win in either of those,” Ryan Hartman said. “He played well both of those games. It’s nice to have a guy on the back end like that.”

Forsberg has blended in well with the Blackhawks. It helps that he already knew two of them, Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov, his former teammates in Columbus. He and Corey Crawford already have a good rapport. Same goes for he and Waite, and Forsberg has soaked up any information they’ve given him.

“I feel like both him and Corey teach me a lot. We talk about different situations, especially all the reads,” Forsberg said. “I get to know how (Crawford) thinks the game. He’s been around a long time and has been doing well, so it’s interesting every day to hear what he has to say. Even Jimmy’s been around same thing there, discussing my game, what we want to improve, what we want to do different, what to keep the same and go from there.”

The extra work in practices and skates appears to be working as Forsberg has done a lot right in just his first two games, which were 10 days apart. The Blackhawks have had a good run of backup goaltenders; two games is a small sample size but Forsberg could be the latest reliable backup.