Blackhawks

Predators beat down Crawford, Hawks

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Predators beat down Crawford, Hawks

The Chicago Blackhawks had been rolling lately. But logic dictates that, in an 82-game season, they were due for a bad one.

They got it on Saturday night. And they suffered the latter part of it without their captain.

Jonathan Toews left in the second period with an upper-body injury and Corey Crawford was pulled in the second period of the Blackhawks sluggish 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. It was the Blackhawks first regulation loss since Jan. 6 (against Colorado). And in the extremely tight Western Conference, the Blackhawks, with 64 points, are in fifth place.

The Blackhawks main concern is Toews, who coach Joel Quenneville said is day-to-day with that upper-body injury. Quenneville said theyll know more in the next day or two how Toews is. The Blackhawks captain was slashed on the left wrist by Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson on Friday night. Toews played the rest of that game; but on Saturday he played his final shift with just over seven minutes remaining in the second period.

Marian Hossa scored two breakaway goals his 19th and 20th goals this season -- and extending his latest point streak to eight straight games. Its the second time this season hes had a scoring streak that long.

The Blackhawks were coming off a 3-1 victory over Florida at home on Friday night. Coupled with rough travel into Nashville they didnt get here until about 3 a.m. Saturday that probably didnt help matters against a relentless Predators team. But the Blackhawks werent using that as an excuse.

No, thats nothing, Quenneville said. In back-to-back settings weve been pretty good as a group. Weve been later than that.

Hossa said, probably you could tell (the lack of energy), but that shouldnt be an excuse at all. (The Predators) were hungrier. We have to learn from this one and we have them in a couple of days.

The one Blackhawk who didnt play on Friday was Crawford, but he wouldnt make it through the night. Crawford allowed four goals on 17 shots, from the bizarre a red-line shot from Kevin Klein that bounced oddly to the Sergei Kostitsyn breakaway that prompted his departure with 3:57 remaining in the second period.

Its just frustrating, said Crawford. I never like to get pulled. I dont know. I hate giving up a goal from the blue line.

Klein, regarding his goal, said the ice was getting a little rough out there. (David) Legwand gave me a pass and I decided to put a little English on it. I got a lucky bounce, which is always nice.

Quenneville didnt heap a ton of blame onto Crawford, but said that goal was a tough one to take.

You lose momentum off that type of goal, Quenneville said. We didnt have a lot of juice in the tank tonight as far as puck support. They beat us to a lot of loose pucks and certainly that was a turning point.

As games go, it certainly wasnt the Blackhawks best but it was their first rough one in nearly two weeks. They Blackhawks will get another shot at the Predators on Tuesday. Whether Toews will be a part of that game is uncertain.

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?