Blackhawks

Mighty matinee as Sharp, Hawks cook Ducks

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Mighty matinee as Sharp, Hawks cook Ducks

Friday, Nov. 26, 2010
Updated 7:24 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Duncan Keith's shorthanded shot looked like it was playing out in slow motion, the puck hitting off Jonas Hiller's inner leg before methodically rolling toward, and then over, the goal line.

But with that shot, the Chicago Blackhawks reversed their penalty killing woes and jump-started their offense.

Patrick Sharp had the game-winning goal and set up Keith's shorthanded tally as the Blackhawks scored four unanswered goals in a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday afternoon.

Corey Crawford was strong in net, stopping 26 of 27 en route to his third career victory over Anaheim. Niklas Hjalmarsson scored his first of the season and Troy Brouwer also scored as the Blackhawks found the back of the net three times in the third to cap a strong outing.

"We've lost a lot of games this year by just one or two goals in the third period so that was a huge win for us and our confidence to play like we did today," Hjalmarsson said. "We're on the right track here."

The Blackhawks once again had a strong start, outshooting the Ducks 13-6. But they gave one up on their first penalty kill, something that's been struggling on this road trip.

On the Ducks' second power play, however, the Blackhawks struck. Sharp grabbed an errant Ducks pass and threw it to Keith, who was charging toward Anaheim starter Jonas Hiller. It looked like Hiller had stopped it, but the puck trickled through.

"We gave up one early, but it was a great play on that Keith goal and we shut them down after that," Brian Campbell said. "Anytime you get a shorthanded goal it lifts your team up."

It did. The Blackhawks shut down that Anaheim power play, as well as the next three. They also took advantage of Ducks miscues. Sharp's game-winner, his fourth this season, came when he intercepted a bad Andy Sutton pass in the slot and beat Hiller for the 2-1 lead.

"You could say that's one of the bigger ones all year," coach Joel Quenneville said of the goal. "He had a great setup on the shorty as well. I like his production and what he brings."

Crawford, meanwhile, was stoic. He came up with some big stops en route to his fourth victory this season, including two on Corey Perry and another on Dan Sexton's early breakaway attempt.

"It was a good day," said Crawford, who won his third consecutive start. "They have a good power play and a top line that can break out at any moment. I was just prepared, trying to get ready for all of them."

Quenneville chose Crawford Friday because of his strong showings vs. Anaheim. Asked if Crawford could start Saturday in Los Angeles, Quenneville said, "we'll talk about it tomorrow," he said. "I thought he did a very good job. He's been very consistent. This one's big."

The Blackhawks' three victories on this road trip have been convincing ones. They were stronger on kills and offense on Friday. Getting that type of game more often is next on the list.

"It's nice to be up in the game and be able to keep adding on to the lead instead of it being so tight all the time," Keith said. "Every goal was a big goal, whether it kept our momentum or kept them down. We need to keep doing what did today, have that mindset, don't change anything."

Familiar pairs

The Blackhawks reverted back to their usual defensive pairs. Keith and Brent Seabrook were together again, as were Hjalmarsson and Campbell. The comfort level looked restored, too.

"I don't mind who I play with, but knowing what (Hjalmarsson's) going to do out there definitely helps us in areas," Campbell said. "We just figure it out. We mix well together."

Weight lifted

Niklas Hjalmarsson reacts after scoring his first goal of the season Friday afternoon in Anahaeim. Hjalmarsson doubled his point total with the goal and is a minus-4 on the year. (AP)Hjalmarsson waited longer than he wanted for his first goal of the season but was happy when it came on Friday.

"It's nice to see a puck go in; it doesn't happen too often for me," he said. "I had a bad start this year. The first 10 games didn't play well at all but the last 10 games have been better."

Exelby signed

The Blackhawks signed Garnet Exelby to a contract and assigned him back to the Rockford IceHogs on Friday. Exelby, the Rockford captain, had been with the organization on a player tryout contract prior to Friday's signing.
Briefly

Seabrook is OK after taking a puck to the groin area for the second consecutive game. "I'm just trying to get in front of shots and do what I can to block them. This one deflected off my stick and went off my leg. It didn't feel too good." ... Keith's short-handed goal was the fifth of his career. He's third among active NHL defensemen in that category, behind Nicklas Lidstrom (10) and Adam Foote (6).

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday night:

1. Blackhawks squander two leads.

For the 13th time in their past 16 games, the Blackhawks scored the first goal of the game. They had won their previous three instances when doing so, but couldn't seal the deal this time and fell to 5-6-2 in those 13 games.

What strung even more is that the Blackhawks held two one-goal leads and couldn't hang on to either of them. They have the seventh-worst win percentage (.571) when scoring the first goal this season with a 20-10-5 record.

2. Vinnie Hinostroza continues to produce offensively.

If you're trying to look for a rare bright spot on the Blackhawks roster this season, here's one. Hinostroza registered a secondary assist on David Kampf's goal for his fifth point in six games, and was on the ice for 16 shot attempts for and seven against during 5-on-5 play for a team-leading shot attempt differential of plus-9 (also known as Corsi).

For the season, Hinostroza has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 32 games and he's doing so while averaging only 13:27 of ice time. His point-per-game average is up to 0.63, which is tied with Jonathan Toews for third on the team; only Patrick Kane (0.92) and Nick Schmaltz (0.71) are producing at a higher rate.

Hinostroza deserves more minutes, but at the same time his ability to produce on any of the four lines has allowed Joel Quenneville to put him in a bottom six role for balance.

"I like his speed," Quenneville said recently on why Hinostroza has been so effective. "I think with the puck, he's been good with it as well. More strength, on it, managing it, better decisions with it, and good plays off it. He definitely brings you energy and some speed, he can catch people with that quickness."

3. Ryan Hartman's benching.

Hartman was part of the fourth line that contributed to the Blackhawks' first goal of the game, and he was on his way to having a strong one. But that changed quickly after he took an ill-advised penalty in the first period.

Already leading 1-0, the Blackhawks had a 2-on-1 opportunity developing involving Hinostroza and David Kampf but Hartman was whistled for high-sticking at 17:06 behind the play. The Blue Jackets converted on the power play, and that was the end of Hartman's night.

He took only five shifts and finished with a season-low 4:16 of ice time, with Quenneville using it as an opportunity for a teaching moment.

4. Tomas Jurco building confidence back up.

It's been a tough season mentally for Jurco. He started the season with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs after failing to make the team out of camp, and compiled 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 36 games. 

It earned him a call-up on Jan. 8, with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman praising the way he progressed: "He looks like he's totally different, in terms of his composure and ability to make plays. That's why we brought him up here."

The problem? He was a healthy scratch for five straight games and went two weeks without seeing game action with the Blackhawks. Not exactly the best way to keep someone's confidence building. And since then, he's been fighting for a spot in the lineup.

For the last three games, Jurco has been given a shot on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane and he cashed in for his first goal of the season tonight and first since March 27, 2017. It's also the second straight game he's recorded a point.

While he may not be worth much if the Blackhawks were to deal him ahead of Monday's deadline, perhaps a change of scenery to a team that believes in him as a fit will bring out the best of his abilities. The Blackhawks tried and it just hasn't worked out.

5. Blue line observation.

This is more of a big-picture takeaway, but the Blackhawks have gotten only 20 goals from their defensemen this season. The Blue Jackets have gotten a combined 19 from just Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Last season the Blackhawks had 30 total.

The Blackhawks just haven't gotten the offensive production needed from their back end and it's so important as it helps alleviate some of the pressure off the forwards.

I asked Quenneville about this after Friday's game and here's what he had to say: "Whether you score or not, you need the D to be part of your attack, be it off the rush, in zone. But I think the whole game, the whole league is four-man rush game, five-man attacks, coming at you, night-in, night-out, wave after wave.

"But you need to get your D involved in your support on the attack and you need them on the offensive zone off the point. You need some shooters on the back end that can get them through as well. I think offensive production from the back end in today’s game really enhances your offense and your possession game."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.