Ryan Garbutt steps up in Blackhawks win over Lightning


Ryan Garbutt steps up in Blackhawks win over Lightning

The Blackhawks said they're going to need help from "a little bit of everyone" in Duncan Keith's absence, not just on defense.

On Saturday, it was Ryan Garbutt who noticeably stepped up in the Blackhawks' 1-0 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lighting in a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Final, providing a spark on the third line.

"I thought he had a really good game," coach Joel Quenneville said after the game. "Much more speed, much more puck possession. That line was a factor as the game progressed."

Garbutt, who was a healthy scratch last week against Washington, logged 9 minutes, 51 seconds of ice time — his third-lowest of the season — against the Lightning, but his impact was far greater.

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In his previous six games, Garbutt had recorded a total of 11 shots on goal. He also had just two combined shots in his last three games. On Saturday alone, he registered six, all of which came in the first two periods.

"It was just one of those games where there were a lot of chances," Garbutt said. "Unfortunately I couldn't get one past (Lightning goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis), but I feel like the more chances I get, the better I play."

Garbutt, who was acquired from the Dallas Stars in the offseason for Patrick Sharp, admitted he's still trying to get accustomed to playing the Blackhawks' style of play, but on a night they committed four penalties for the second straight game, he proved to be valuable on both special teams and even strength.

"Huge," Jonathan Toews, who scored the game-winning goal 17 seconds into overtime, responded when asked about Garbutt's — and other newcomer Artem Anisimov's — performance. "It's nice to have those two extra guys skating and playing smart defensively in the rotation. I think it keeps more guys involved in the game and obviously a game like tonight, or even the last one against Florida, where we ran into some penalty trouble, we keep our legs fresh when we're (on the penalty kill) and we go back to 5-on-5 too, so those guys have been huge for us so far."

Without Keith, who's expected to miss four-to-six weeks after having surgery to repair a right meniscal tear, the Blackhawks held the Florida Panthers, who were averaging nearly 30 shots per game entering Thursday, to a season-low 18 shots on goal and followed that up by shutting out the reigning Eastern Conference champions, who entered Saturday tied for the sixth-most goals scored and the eighth-ranked power play, picking up exactly where they left off last June.

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Not a bad response for a team that lost their ironman on the blue line.

But Garbutt, who knows just how important Keith is on defense despite not being a part of last year's Stanley Cup run, won't take credit for it all.

"I think it's everyone stepping up, forwards and the (defense)," Garbutt said. "We've got guys playing big minutes back there. (Trevor van Riemsdyk) is playing great and getting better every game; same with (Viktor) Svedberg. All those guys are just picking up the slack and everyone's been working a little bit harder."

While he didn't have anything to show for it, Garbutt is slowly finding his rhythm and will look to build off arguably his best performance in a Blackhawks uniform yet.

"It's not easy to score in the National Hockey League," he said. "You've got to make sure to take advantage of your opportunities. I feel like I'm getting better every game."

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

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?