Blackhawks

Sharp hurt while Hawks remain winless in 2012

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Sharp hurt while Hawks remain winless in 2012

Updated: Sunday, Jan. 8 at 10:25 p.m.

The Blackhawks had several opportunities to get some breathing room over the Detroit Red Wings. They couldnt convert on enough of them, and the Wings took advantage late.

Patrick Sharp scored his 20th goal of the season for an early 2-0 lead, but the Blackhawks lost that and Sharp as they dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Wings on Sunday night. The Blackhawks dropped to 0-3-1 in January and to fifth overall in the Western Conference.

The big concern at the moment is Sharp, who suffered an upper-body injury in the first period. He did not come out for the second and third periods. Coach Joel Quenneville said theyll run some tests with Sharp and know more about his status on Monday.

It was a crazy ending with Henrik Zetterberg scoring with less than five minutes in regulation to tie it and Pavel Datsyuk getting the game-winner in overtime. Corey Crawford wasnt happy with the Wings second goal.

A guy came in and lifted my stick before the puck was even near there. Thats how it went under, he said. I guess they just dont pick up on that stuff. We shouldve won that game. The guy came in and interfered. Its embarrassing.

When asked if there shouldve been some Detroit penalties late, Quenneville talked of the opportunities the Blackhawks did have and didnt capitalize on.

We had a couple of power-plays that would have been nice; would have been nice to score on the penalty shot, he said. Thats what it is: tight game, a couple of rolling pucks, one went in and one didnt go in.

Defenseman Duncan Keith concurred.

We get another (goal) there and it definitely helps us out and puts us in a better spot, he said. We had chances to score. It was close the whole way and they ended up finding a way at the end.

The Blackhawks scored two goals in 44 seconds in the first period, the first a power-play goal by Dave Bolland and the second Sharps. The Blackhawks had four power plays on the night, scoring on just that first one. They thought they scored an even-strength goal midway through the third period but video review proved inconclusive on it crossing the goal line. Jimmy Hayes was awarded a penalty shot on that play, however, but Ty Conklin stopped it.

It was a good effort by (Hayes). Its a tough situation, a lot of pressure in that circumstance, but it doesnt have to come down to that, Jonathan Toews said. Weve got to find a way to close out 60 minutes and play hard the way we did in the first two and protect that one-goal lead.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, considering the Blackhawks played the type of game they wanted. Theyve left points out there to start this month and theyve lost some ground in the West. They know there are improvements to be made, but theyre not panicking.

That race weve had, we might have been ahead of those teams but it wasnt like we were light years ahead of them, Quenneville said. Its a one-, two-point swing here, everybodys in the mix. I see this battle going on all year and the conference is tightening up as well. We did give away a lot of ground here this week and its up to us to regain where were at.

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.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."