Scoring in bunches: Blackhawks have to tighten up


Scoring in bunches: Blackhawks have to tighten up

Marian Hossa got the question that so many Blackhawks did following their Game 1 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

Yes, the Blackhawks won, with Teuvo Teravainen’s late-second-period goal providing the difference. But that second period, the one in which the Wild scored three times in less than 10 minutes to erase the Blackhawks’ 3-0 lead, what the heck was that?

“It’s amazing, eh?” Hossa said with a bit of a smile. “The same thing happened in Game 1 in Nashville, just the other way around. It’s hard to explain why: a few little mistakes, they have hot sticks and put it in the net.”

[MORE: Teravainen nets winner as Blackhawks edge Wild in Game 1]

Part of it was a great Wild team pushing to get back into the game. But this isn’t the first time the Blackhawks have given up goals in bunches. Five times already this postseason, the Blackhawks have allowed three goals in a single period — five, including the second period on Friday night.

So what happened?

“We’re better when we’re exposing our speed and play with some tempo,” Antoine Vermette said. “In the second period a few times we didn’t necessarily, on a few occasions, position ourselves and the puck to advance the play a little more efficiently. And they took advantage.”

Indeed, the first and second periods were extreme, for both teams. As good as the Wild was in the second, it was the mistake-riddled team in the first when the Blackhawks were capitalizing on everything. That reversed in the second.

Quenneville called a time out immediately after the Wild tied the game. Who knows what was said — let’s face it, we probably couldn’t print it anyway — but the message apparently got through. Brandon Saad said the Blackhawks didn’t really have a choice but to forget everything up to that point and play better from there on out.

“We don’t want to give you that many goals, that quickly, but after it happens there’s not much you can do about it,” Saad said. “It’s an even game there. It’s considered 0-0 and you have to score. We have to regroup. Regardless of what happened, obviously it’s not how we want to play but we have to regroup, refocus and get the job done.”

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The Blackhawks pulled one out of the fire on Friday night. It was 50 minutes worth of a fairly strong game, punctuated by a befuddling 10 minutes. The Wild will come out desperate again on Sunday, much like it did in the second period on Friday. The Blackhawks need to be wary of that, and give up a lotless than they did the other night.

“They’re a very disciplined team. Well-structured. So you’ve got to be patient. But you’ve got to play with a purpose and be smart and manage the puck a little better than we did in the second period,” Vermette said. “That’s one thing we’ve got to focus on — move our feet and puck possession and placement would be a key factor.”

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?