Blackhawks

High Five: Red-hot Hawks, Toews fly by Wild

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High Five: Red-hot Hawks, Toews fly by Wild

Monday, Feb. 28, 2011
Posted 9:31 p.m. Updated 10:55 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa sprinted down the ice for a 2-on-1 opportunity, Hossa connecting to end the Minnesota Wilds late burgeoning threat to tie the game.

WATCH: Coach Q says Toews is a force

Its just the way the Chicago Blackhawks are rolling right now. The team that struggled to hold onto ties or leads late is now finding ways to win them.

TRADE: Hawks land defenseman Campoli

Toews had a goal and two assists and Patrick Sharp scored his 33rd goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 4-2 at Xcel Energy Center on Monday night. The Blackhawks have now won a season-best five in a row and at games end sat in sixth place in the Western Conference.

We dont even feel like were on a hot streak right now, said Toews, who now has points in six consecutive games. Were just taking it one game at a time. Whenever we come up with two points, whether its a shootout win or by a couple goals, it doesnt matter how we get it.

Not that this one didnt have its drama at the end. The Blackhawks led 3-0 after two but the Wild struck early in the third when Martin Havlat came out of the penalty box to beat Corey Crawford. They scored again with less than five minutes left, as Brent Burns knocked home a rebound and then got a power play about a minute later.

But when Pierre-Marc Bouchard made a valiant but unsuccessful attempt to keep the puck in the zone, Toews took it and went with Hossa to set up Hossas short-handed goal.

We got ourselves in a little trouble, said Hossa, who now has a goal in each of his last four games. We controlled the game pretty much all the way and then they scored that second goal and it was a game. Toewser picked up that puck and made a really nice play to me. Basically, I just tried to hit it in.

Crawford, starting in his eighth consecutive game, stopped 24 of 26 for his 23rd victory this season.

Everyone, especially on the road, keeps it real simple, he said. Were not forcing anything. We create our opportunities down low and were not giving the other team too much.

Its not really surprising at this point that Toews was once again at the center of a big play. Hes been strong all season but especially these past few games, as the Blackhawks have pulled themselves back into the Western Conference hunt.
Marian Hossa taps in the pass from Jonathan Toews for a short-handed goal to put the Blackhawks up 4-2 late in the third period. The Blackhawks continue to excel when Hossa scores and the assist was the third point of the game for Toews, giving him 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) in his last 6 games. (AP)
Hes been a force, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes been dominating in all aspects of the game. That was a huge goal at the end with patience. (Patrick Kane) gave him a comparable play early in the game. Hes been a huge factor.

The Blackhawks are finally putting together the run theyve wanted. Those points they used to leave behind theyre now collecting. Now they need to keep it going.

Weve been looking all year to put something together like this and the last three games have been huge games, Quenneville said. Lets keep the momentum here, build off the positive things. There are some things we cant be happy about in this game but the two points are the best part.

Briefly

The Blackhawks are now 18-4-2 this season when Hossa records a point.

John Scott made his presence known against the Wild, fighting Brad Staubitz after Staubitz hit Brian Campbell on an icing call.

Fernando Pisani and the newly acquired defenseman Chris Campoli were healthy scratches on Monday night.

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night:
 
1. Shake-up on power play doesn't work.

Joel Quenneville spruced up his power play units before Wednesday's game in an effort to snap a dry spell, but the Blackhawks had no luck in that department in the second of a back-to-back.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the man advantage against an Oilers team that was ranked dead last in penalty kill percentage going into the contest, and failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 opportunity for 56 seconds in the opening minutes of the season period.

They're getting off a fair amount of shots, but the quality of them isn't there.

2. Ryan Hartman fine after brief exit due to illegal hit.

It was a physical game between the Blackhawks-Oilers, but a line was crossed at the 4:59 mark into the second period when Zack Kassian delivered a huge hit on Hartman, who went face-first into the boards.

Kassian was given a two-minute minor penalty for boarding, a call that didn't sit well with the sold-out United Center crowd of 21,444. Hartman went to the locker room to be checked out after the hit despite getting up quickly and showing no visible signs of distress, but he fortunately returned a few shifts later.

It was a dangerous hit by Kassian, and an avoidable one too. 

Quenneville admitted Hartman getting up quickly perhaps may have "helped" keep it a minor penalty and not a five-minute major, but the Blackhawks coach wasn't focused on that after seeing the result unfold.

"I saw how hard it looked," Quenneville said. "But Hartzy getting up right away, that helped. You don't even measure it anymore after that. That's the one thing you're hopeful for right off the bat."
 
3. Connor McDavid adds another play to highlight reel.

We're only two weeks into the season, but the 20-year-old reigning Hart Trophy winner submitted an early entry for Assist of the Year.

Late in the first period, McDavid flew from his own end into the offensive zone, made a spin-o-rama move on two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and backhanded a perfect pass to Patrick Maroon, who tapped in a goal at the doorstep.

It looks impossible to defend from anyone watching, and Keith pretty much felt the same way.

"When he gets the speed in the other end there and he's able to skate all the way down, it's tough to stop a guy especially when he's that fast," Keith said. "He's just flying through the middle. I'm just a sitting duck there at the other end of the ice waiting for him to come full speed. It's a hard play to defend against."
 
4. Anton Forsberg sharp again.

It's a small sample size, but the Blackhawks' backup goaltender has looked really sharp in practically every start he's had in a Chicago uniform, including preseason.

He deserved a better fate in his regular season debut last week in Toronto when he stopped 39 of 43 shots in an overtime loss, and the same applied here.

Forsberg tied a career-high with 40 saves, and seemingly got better as the game went on.

"I for sure felt more comfortable, felt like I was more used to the speed," Forsberg said. "It's tough again to lose in overtime, obviously I wanted a win and that's kind of frustrating."

"Excellent games, both games," Quenneville said of his goaltender. "Would've been nice to get him a win tonight."
 
5. Jordan Oesterle keeps it simple in debut.

The Blackhawks' crowded blue line has made it difficult for Quenneville to give all eight defensemen a fair amount of playing time, but Oesterle took advantage of his season debut.

He logged 15:01 of ice time, registered three shot attempts (two on goal), and blocked two shots.

"I liked him," Quenneville said. "Moves the puck."

Said Keith: "I thought he was good. Tough situation for him, he hasn't played all year in a game but I thought he played good. He's got good poise, he's smart back there."

Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers

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USA TODAY

Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers

Mark Letestu raised his arms in celebration, his 4-on-3 power-play goal giving the Edmonton Oilers an overtime victory over the Blackhawks. The home team could only look on in frustration, knowing that if it could have just converted one power play on Thursday it may have been a different result.

Five more power plays, five more opportunities that yielded nothing for the Blackhawks, who are now 6-for-39 (15.4 percent) in that department on the season. The 5-on-4 chances were tough enough but coach Joel Quenneville and several Blackhawks pointed specifically to the 5-on-3 the Blackhawks had for 56 seconds.

“The 5-on-3, we had some great looks around the net,” Quenneville said. “A lot of loose pucks that we just didn’t find the handle [on], we’re not anticipating or sniffing them out around the net. Some close looks but no finish.”

It’s been a recurring theme for the Blackhawks on the power play, and not just this year. Again, in the past the Blackhawks didn’t sweat any power-play issues much; their 5-on-5 scoring was usually strong. This early season, however, things have quieted on that front. On Thursday the Blackhawks cleaned up a lot of the mistakes they made against the St. Louis Blues the previous night. Anton Forsberg was terrific. The Blackhawks’ second line of Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane was looking like it did prior to Schmaltz’s injury. But the power play remained the same.

“Yeah, we had a lot of chances, we made plays to the net. We just didn’t capitalize on the power play which would’ve been the difference,” Ryan Hartman said. “We have a chance on the 5-on-3, which would’ve been nice. Just some chances all around, like [Jonathan] Toews’ shot that just squeaked by. Just some missed opportunities.”

The Blackhawks have looked at ways to get their power play going. They’ve tinkered with personnel – the latest was keeping the top two lines together for their respective power-play shifts. Usually it’s come down to the problems that have hampered them before: not enough movement, not enough shots, not enough hunger around the net for loose pucks. The final issue was especially prevalent on Thursday.

The chances were there on the power play. The home team had the bulk of the opportunities. The visiting one had the finish.

“The 5-on-3 we had some decent looks but that was a chance to get a huge goal for us,” Quenneville said. “The power play late in the second was decent, the third was ordinary, but we’ve been moving personnel around. We have the ingredients to make it work but a lot of loose pucks we didn’t get in our 5-on-5 game comparable around the net on the power play as well. We didn’t smell anything out around there.”