Blackhawks

Hawks finally prevail in shootout, earn extra point

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Hawks finally prevail in shootout, earn extra point

Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011
Posted 5:22 p.m. Updated 6:50 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks watched the opposition score another late third-period goal, erasing another slim, late third-period lead.

But instead of succumbing to another missed opportunity to get points, the Blackhawks seized this one.

Patrick Sharp scored his 31st goal of the season and Patrick Kane scored the shootout winner and the Blackhawks beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. The Blackhawks came away with four of six points on this three-game homestand. Theyre still in 11th place, but just two points out of eighth.

WATCH: Sharp defends Kane

Its a good feeling thats for sure, said Sharp, whos now just five goals shy of his career-best 36 he scored in the 2007-08 season. But we cant look at taking two of three and being satisfied. We have to approach every game as a must-win. It shows out there on the ice in critical situations.

Bryan Bickell also scored and Corey Crawford stopped 24 of 26 in regulation, and all three Penguins shootout offerings, for the victory.

It was another reminder that nothing comes easy at this juncture of the season.

I just think everybodys on the same playing field in this league. Youre fighting for every inch, every point, no matter whether youre in the east or west, acting coach Mike Haviland said. It was a gutsy effort and the way we need to play going into (Monday).

Still, it didnt come without its drama. The Penguins were without top players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin but they came with a hard-working game. Matt Cooke scored a short-handed goal early and Brett Sterling punched home a rebound shot with less than four minutes remaining in regulation to tie it 2-2.
Patrick Sharp reacts after scoring his 31st goal of the season in the first period against the Penguins. Since being paired on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, Sharp has scored four goals in his last five games. (AP)
But Kane came through with the shootout winner, wristing it to Marc-Andre Fleurys right after the Penguins goaltender went left.

WATCH: Kane describes new shootout move

Sometimes when you miss a few in a row (in the shootout) you want to change it up a bit, said Kane, who was coming off a three-point night against Columbus on Friday. I just tried to come down the middle and pull him to the one side and bring it back. Im happy it worked, obviously.

Its just that time of year where nothings going to come easy. The Blackhawks have been dealing with that all season, so theyre definitely ready for the pressures that come with the playoff push.

Nothings been easy all year, Crawford said. It seems like weve been playing these games all year and were just getting better because of it. Hopefully it continues.
Johnson returns

Ryan Johnson came off injured reserve on Sunday morning from his concussion, and added a boost for the Blackhawks, especially on the penalty kill. Johnson, who logged 11:22 of ice time, blocked two shots and, more important, won nine of 12 faceoffs.

For sure (he was key) and it starts with the faceoffs, Haviland said. RJ came in and did a great job. We blocked a lot of shots, we were in lanes. Were going to need that PK down the stretch.

Q at home

Coach Joel Quenneville returned home on Saturday after spending a few days in the hospital getting treated for an ulcer. Haviland said they talked prior to the game and Jonathan Toews said he sent Quenneville a couple of texts.

I dont want to bother him too much, Jonathan Toews said. Hes doing well and were happy to hear that. If he could, hed be right back here as fast as he could. But the important thing is he gets healthy and be ready to do his job the best he can.

Its been a trying week for the Blackhawks, who have had Quennevilles health on their minds while battling for a playoff spot. Toews credited Haviland with the job hes done in Quennevilles absence.

Its not an easy situation to be in, Toews said. He was able to take over and did a great job of getting us through that. Hopefully we get Q back soon but well keep working no matter what.

Briefly

Fernando Pisani (head), Nick Boynton and John Scott (healthy) were the scratches on Sunday.

Sundays attendance of 22,195 was the highest for a Blackhawks game this season.

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

Eight-defensemen rotation tricky, but Blackhawks understand juggling act

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USA TODAY

Eight-defensemen rotation tricky, but Blackhawks understand juggling act

For Jordan Oesterle, the wait really wasn’t a terrible thing.

Sure, he was used to playing more consistently in the past. But he knew with the Blackhawks carrying eight defensemen that several players, including him, would need to practice patience and understanding.

“It hasn’t been too long. It’s only been a week and a half so it’s not terrible,” said Oesterle on Thursday morning, a few hours before he made his Blackhawks debut against his former team, the Edmonton Oilers.

For the second consecutive season the Blackhawks are going with eight defensemen to start the season. In one way, it’s good: if anything goes awry, be it someone’s game or someone’s health, the depth is readily there.

But so are the challenges. It’s a juggling act, a delicate balance between making the right decisions and making sure a player understands that a scratch may be more about the rotation and not his individual game.

Communication, above all, is key.

“It’s not easy being the guys who are in or out, right on that bubble situation where you come in not knowing if you’re going to play. But as a staff we want to keep everyone involved,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We know the depth of your defense is going to get challenged at some point during the year. We feel the eight guys who are here can play but that’s how we’ve always done it: We’ve always let guys know whether you’re in or out. Sometimes you have to be more patient than you’d like but handling it the right way, whether you’re a good pro or teammate, that can be healthy around the environment of your team.”

Based on all outward appearances, everyone has handled it well. Connor Murphy has been a healthy scratch twice – “I mean I just want to see the team win really...if we're winning and guys are playing well that's all that matter,” Murphy said after his first scratch.

Oesterle was a healthy scratch the first seven games. Michal Kempny, who Oesterle replaced, has been scratched the last two games. Cody Franson has also sat seven games. Franson, whose patience has been in place while awaiting contracts in his career, is practicing it again. But he’s appreciated the Blackhawks’ communication on it.

“This situation gets tough when they don’t say anything to you; you don’t know if it’s because of the way you’re playing, you don’t know if it’s something you did or what the situation is. The coaching staff has done a great job of being in our ear, letting us leave our work at the rink and not take it home with us,” Franson said. “That goes a long way in being able to stay positive and in the right mindset through it.”

After starting with eight defensemen last season the Blackhawks eventually went back to seven. Will they do that again this season? Maybe, but whoever gets sent down would most likely have to go through waivers. The Blackhawks reassigned Gustav Forsling last season to get back to seven defensemen and get Forsling more playing time. But this season Forsling and Jan Rutta have been dependable and have pretty much become the Blackhawks’ second pairing.

So for now, eight defensemen it shall be. Being part of the rotation isn’t always easy but so far players seem to get that it’s for the greater good.

“It’s one of those things where we’ve got eight quality guys. I think no matter who’s sitting on any given night, it might not necessary be due to how they’re playing or how they’re doing individually,” Franson said. “I think Q’s done a great job of managing that situation. That’s one of those things where it’s a great problem to have but it’s not an easy one to handle. So we’re all aware of what’s taking place right now and you just try to be as professional about it as you can.”

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night:
 
1. Surviving a crazy first period.

The Blackhawks committed four penalties in the opening frame within a 2:18 span, and escaped unscathed from it despite a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities for the Coyotes.

Of course, the only goal allowed in the period came from a fluke deflection off Jordan Oesterle's stick and slipped underneath Corey Crawford's five-hole.

Joel Quenneville likes to say the team that takes advantage of their 5-on-3 opportunities has a pretty good chance to win the game. It applied in this case, with the Blackhawks coming out victorious after surviving that stretch.

2. Power play comes alive early.

The Blackhawks got off on the right foot in an area that has been an issue for them this season, capitalizing on their first power play of the game 24 seconds into it when Richard Panik redirected a Jonathan Toews shot that tricked past Louis Domingue.

Good thing too, because it was the only man advantage they'd get. Well, excluding the power play they received with 17 seconds left in regulation when the game was already decided. 
 
3. Another controversial review in Arizona.

What's with it with controversial reviews in Arizona and the Blackhawks being on the wrong end of the call?

The Blackhawks appeared to have taken a 3-1 lead when Tommy Wingels converted on a penalty shot, but it was overturned after officials reviewed it and determined the Coyotes netminder got a stick on Wingels' initial shot. Replays didn't exactly show conclusive evidence, but the NHL released a statement proving otherwise:

Video review determined that Wingels shot the puck into the net after Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue made contact with the puck. According to Rule 24.2, "No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind."

Shortly after, the Coyotes scored in the final minutes of the period to even up the score at 2-2 in a big turn of events at the time.
 
4. ... But puck don't lie.

The overturned penalty shot didn't matter in the end though, because the Blackhawks came away with the victory and Wingels ended up getting his first goal after all on an empty netter that iced the game.

It was Wingels' first goal as a member of his hometown team, and it was well deserved for a guy who was part of the fourth line that turned in arguably their best performance of the season.
 
5. Lance Bouma rewarded with game-winning goal.

Speaking of which, it was fitting that Bouma scored the game winner with 4:24 left in the third period because that trio of Bouma, Wingels and John Hayden was around the net for the majority of the night.

They combined for two goals and two assists, had eight attempts shot attempts (five on goal), eight of the team's 16 hits and four blocked shots.