Blackhawks

Missed opportunity sends Hawks to shootout loss

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Missed opportunity sends Hawks to shootout loss

Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
Posted: 9:46 PM Updated 10:50 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

NASHVILLE For nearly 50 minutes, the Chicago Blackhawks were outworking, outhustling and dominating the Nashville Predators, with a 2-0 lead to show for it.

But when the Predators pushed back in the final 10 minutes of regulation, a big two points for the Blackhawks turned into just one.

Tomas Kopecky and Viktor Stalberg scored, but the Predators came back with two in the third and Marcel Goc had the shootout winner in a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night.

Corey Crawfords shutout streak ended at 176 minutes, nine seconds. It was the longest such run since Tony Esposito went 192:29 from Jan. 16-30, 1972.

I could care less (about that), as long as we get two points, Crawford said. At least we came away with one, but I think we couldve had two there.

The Blackhawks looked set to collect two points and jump ahead of the Predators with what was a strong display of hockey through most of the game. They were controlling the action, seemingly winning every puck battle and spending tons of time in the Predators zone. But the Predators fired back in the third, outshooting the Blackhawks 13-7 in the frame and wrestling momentum away.

It was another game in which the Blackhawks struggled to hold on in the third period.

Its frustrating, captain Jonathan Toews said. I think a lot of guys played well, collectively we played well. We got big stops from Crow and big penalty kills. It just comes down to a couple little mistakes and its frustrating when those things dont go right for you.

READ: Hjalmarsson's dirty work

Crawford had recorded two consecutive shutouts entering this one. But Jerred Smithson ended his bid for a third 9:46 into the third period. The Predators fed off that momentum, and less than three minutes later Shea Webers shot from the blue line tied it 2-2.

We had them right where we wanted them, coach Joel Quenneville said. They got a little life on that (Smithson) goal, the building got loud, face off, bang-bang play and they got the (Weber) shot. We shouldve nailed it.

That was a good opportunity for us, Quenneville said. You know they were going to have their turn at some point in the game and they did.

WATCH: Coach Q upset after game

The Blackhawks couldnt get a shootout attempt past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, who stopped 31 of 33 in the victory. Rinne also came up big with 1:26 remaining in overtime, when he stopped Patrick Sharps breakaway shot.

There was already an onus on Sunday nights rematch against the Predators. After the way Saturdays game ended, its that much greater now.

Obviously its a huge game, a big weekend for us, Quenneville said. The standings are still probably jumbled up. Itll be the same going into tomorrows game: a tight team playing a tight game. And you have to be ready to win that type of game where its a low scoring affair and a hard-working type of game gets rewarded.

Briefly

Jake Dowell went off briefly in the first period after blocking a puck off his right leg. He finished the game.

John Scott, Nick Boynton and Ryan Johnson were once again scratches on Saturday night.

Quenneville said prior to Saturdays game that Marty Turco could possibly start Sunday.

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

Gustav Forsling showing improvement in his second season with Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Gustav Forsling showing improvement in his second season with Blackhawks

On two consecutive Saturday evenings the Blackhawks were looking for a little more offense. On two consecutive Saturday evenings they got some from Gustav Forsling, whose shots got through to either tie a game (vs. Carolina) or take a lead (vs. Pittsburgh).

Forsling isn’t the big go-to guy when it comes to points but he’s nevertheless getting them for a Blackhawks team that’s starting to find its offense again. But this is more about Forsling’s overall game which, not long after he made the Blackhawks roster last fall, plateaued. This season he’s been more consistent and more confident from the start, and he and Jan Rutta have formed a pair that coach Joel Quenneville trusts and has kept together for most of this season. The 21-year-old defenseman talked of working on the mental side of his game entering this season and said he feels the difference.

“I’ve been working on it this summer and I feel a little bit better,” he said. “[Just] more confident with the puck and confident in myself and pretty much everywhere.”

Quenneville has seen the difference.

“I think he’s getting better with his reads,” Quenneville said. “He’s got a better gap. [Being] quicker all over the ice is part of that and nice to see him pound one that goes through because his shot can be a lot heavier than it’s been and we want him to use it a little bit more, too.”

Forsling says he feels comfortable playing with any of the Blackhawks’ defensemen but there’s no doubt he and Rutta have been good together. The two clicked immediately, and at times they’ve been the Blackhawks’ second pair.

“I think we’re thinking the same way out there on the ice. We have a great conversation out there and everything’s worked out fine,” Forsling said. “He’s a funny guy and we get along well.”

Forsling’s offensive contributions are welcomed but so is his defense. When the Rangers were looking for the game-tying goal late in the third period on Wednesday, Forsling was on Corey Crawford’s left side to prevent David Desharnais from scoring it. Seventy-six seconds later, Artem Anisimov’s goal gave the Blackhawks a two-goal lead.

“Great play by him,” Crawford said. “For us, we want to cover the short side there and it’s great or him to get over quick and get his stick there. Definitely a great stop by him.”

Forsling’s playing with more confidence. He’s added a little early offense. The Blackhawks wanted Forsling to reach another level this season and so far, he’s doing that.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Penguins: Power play becoming a strength?

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Penguins: Power play becoming a strength?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night:
 
1. That's how you start a game.

The Blackhawks haven't had the best of starts over the last couple weeks or so — aside from their recent four-goal first period against New Jersey. But they flew out of the gates in Pittsburgh.

Chicago recorded 27 shot attempts (11 on goal) in the opening frame compared to Pittsburgh's 13 attempts (nine on goal), and led in the even-strength scoring chances department 11-2.

Two of those chances were breakaways from Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews, but both were denied by Matt Murray. The Blackhawks cashed in on one of two power play opportunities, however, and took a 1-0 lead into the second.

2. Power play strikes again.

Speaking of power plays, the Blackhawks came up empty on their first one of the game, but they were handed another one 44 seconds later at the midway mark of the first and capitalized when Gustav Forsling slipped one five-hole past Murray. 

It's the third consecutive game the Blackhawks have scored on the man advantage, something they hadn't done since Oct. 7-12 when they scored in four straight. It's also the second consecutive game the power play unit netted the game winner.

The Blackhawks are 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) on the power play in their last three games after going 5-for-53 (9.4 percent) in their previous 12. 

3. Should Blackhawks have pushed back immediately following Corey Crawford injury?

A scary moment occurred in the second period when Evgeni Malkin swiped Crawford in the mask while racing for a loose puck, forcing the Blackhawks netminder to exit before returning a few minutes later.

Malkin was given a two-minute minor penalty for goaltender interference, but should the Blackhawks have stood up for Crawford at the expense of getting tagged with a penalty themselves?

No question a power play opportunity with a chance to make it a two-goal game at that stage of the game — and against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions who hadn't lost in regulation at home this season going into the matchup —  is important, but the Blackhawks' lack of retaliation was a bit surpising. 

It wasn't a dirty play by Malkin by any means, but there's a principle involved when your goaltender gets hit like that. Those are the kinds of penalties you shouldn't mind taking, and at the very worst it would've been 4-on-4 hockey with one of Pittsburgh's best forwards in the box.

4. Artem Anisimov stays hot.

The goals keep coming for No. 15.

After the Penguins tied it up at 1-1 in the third period with a shorthanded goal, Anisimov scored 21 seconds later on the power play to put the Blackhawks back in front 2-1.

Anisimov now has nine goals in his last 10 games after scoring just one goal in his first 10 to start the season. He also has four game-winning goals on the season, all of which have come this month. Brandon Saad leads the NHL with five.

5. Alex DeBrincat extends point streak.

Lost in the shuffle was the Blackhawks' top rookie getting on the scoresheet once again.

With an assist on Forsling's power play goal in the first period, DeBrincat extended his point streak to four games. He has four goals and two assists in that span, and is averaging a point per game over his last nine (six goals and three assists).

DeBrincat also moved into a three-way tie with Richard Panik and Toews for second on the team with 13 points.