Blackhawks

Skille strikes twice, lifts Hawks to third straight win

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Skille strikes twice, lifts Hawks to third straight win

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010
Poste 10:03 PM Updated 11:39 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Jack Skille came up empty when he fired nine shots on goal against Detroit last Friday. Against Nashville on Wednesday, his percentage was much, much better.

Skille shot twice and scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks got the momentum they were hoping for entering the Christmas respite, as theyre now on a three-game winning streak.

And once again, the Blackhawks won by playing simple, relatively mistake-free hockey. They were solid on defense, they kept penalties low and allowed Corey Crawford to see the shots he needed.

Scoring first was certainly a big factor, said coach Joel Quenneville of Dave Bollands goal, which came off a turnover in the first period. We didnt get frustrated. I thought the guys were very smart and we did what we had to do to be successful.

Ive got to commend the whole group. Our focus was in the right place, Quenneville continued. It wouldve been easy to put your mind elsewhere, relax out there. That was important.

For Skille, it was all about continuing to shoot. His first was a pretty power-play goal on which he waited then fired top-shelf on Anders Lindback. His second put the Blackhawks up 3-1 midway through the third.

I think (my shooting percentage) is still pretty low, Skille said with a grin. (Dave) Bolland made an unbelievable pass to me on the first goal, and I was fortunate the puck bounced my way on the second.

Four of Skilles six goals this season have come against the Predators. So why has he had so much success against Nashville?

I have no idea, he said. Personally Im just focusing on getting the puck in and I think that just puts me in the right position on the ice.

Crawford stopped 24 of 25 shots en route to his third consecutive victory. Bryan Bickell continued his hot streak, scoring a goal for the fourth time in his fifth game
Keeping it simple, thats about it, Bickell said of his success lately. Qs telling me to keep it simple, put shots on net and theyre going in. I cant complain.

The Blackhawks are now playing the type of hockey they need at home: simple and gritty, minus the pretty and cute. Theyre more familiar with each other, their game is sharper and its paying off in much-needed points.

Were finding our way now, Bolland said. Guys are finding their roles. It took a little bit longer than we wanted it to, but were finding our roles on the ice now.

Injured progressing

Viktor Stalberg (head) was cleared to play but was kept out of Wednesday nights game against Nashville. Stalberg said hell take advantage of the extra days to keep improving.

Ill get a few more days in between and make sure Im 100 percent to go (after Christmas), said Stalberg, who added hes working to get back to game shape. When it gets up to four (days off the ice), its like starting over again. Its amazing how you can lose it so quickly. But Ill keep working away and be ready soon again.

Marian Hossa skated with the team on Wednesday and Quenneville said he should be just about ready to go after Christmas. Patrick Kane skated on his own Wednesday; Quenneville said he did well.

Well see how he comes out of the break with a chance of playing in one of those first couple of games, Quenneville said of Kane.

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

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.

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

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USA TODAY

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.

The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."

"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."

It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.

Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.