New York Islanders

Blackhawks bolster depth with flurry of moves

Blackhawks bolster depth with flurry of moves

While the Blackhawks certainly have depth to add across the board before the season begins. On Saturday they worked to that end, signing Tommy Wingels to a one-year deal and goaltender Jean-Francois Berube and defenseman Jordan Oesterle to two-year deals.

Wingels, who hails from Wilmette, was traded to the Ottawa Senators at the deadline last season. He played in 36 regular-season games and nine playoff games for Ottawa. Wingels had been with the San Jose Sharks since the 2010-11 season.

[RELATED: Patrick Sharp is officially back with the Blackhawks]

The 25-year-old Berube was 3-2-2 with a 3.42 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage with the New York Islanders. As of now the Blackhawks are planning on Anton Forsberg, acquired as part of the Brandon Saad trade last Friday, to be Corey Crawford’s backup this season.

As for Oesterle, 25, he’s played 19 games with the Edmonton Oilers over the past two seasons. He spent most of last season with the Bakersfield Condors, recording 32 points in 44 games.

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Islanders: Corey Crawford shines in win

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Islanders: Corey Crawford shines in win

The injury and illness bug has hit the Blackhawks in a big way, as they missed four guys in Friday’s game against the New York Islanders.

Sure, the effects of that were evident, as will be discussed below. But with good goaltending keeping the Blackhawks within striking distance, the finally did strike late. Another victory, and the Blackhawks could get two players (Artem Anisimov and Nick Schmaltz) back on Saturday. We’ll see for sure when we get to Nashville.

Now, onto the notables.

What Worked: The third-period pressure. The Blackhawks had just 13 shots through the first two periods on Friday. Credit a good deal of that to the Islanders bottling things up inside, but the Blackhawks had to push harder to create traffic, chances inside. In the third period they did, and Artemi Panarin’s shot, with traffic in front, got through to tie the game and force overtime.

What Didn’t Work: The Blackhawks’ line chemistry. It’s not a complete surprise, given the changes the Blackhawks had to make in the wake of illness (Schmaltz) and injury (Anisimov). The rhythm the Blackhawks had gotten into the past several weeks just wasn’t the same. Neither was the timing. The lines weren’t bad but the unavoidable changes definitely had their effect.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks’ No. 1 goaltender hadn’t started since Feb. 23. Coach Joel Quenneville had Scott Darling start on Wednesday to give Crawford, who had been ill, another day or two to rest and recuperate. It worked, as Crawford stopped 31 of 32 shots in regulation and in overtime to keep the Blackhawks in this one. Crawford said he felt better as the game progressed. Now with Darling out for three weeks, the Blackhawks will need Crawford at his best.

He Said It: “It’s always good for him to get back on the scoresheet. When pucks are going in for him, it’s the same for everybody, it lifts your confidence. That was a big goal for us and a timely goal for him. We’re sure we’ll see him feed off that and hopefully more come down the road.” — Jonathan Toews on Panarin, who scored for the first time since Feb. 10.

By the Numbers:

700 – Career games for Jonathan Toews with Friday night’s outing.

50 – Career NHL goals for Artemi Panarin.

23 – Blocked shots by the Islanders. Twenty of those came in the first two periods.

26:10 – Time on ice for Patrick Kane, the most of any forward, in Friday’s game.

Artemi Panarin lifts Blackhawks past Islanders in shootout for sixth straight win

Artemi Panarin lifts Blackhawks past Islanders in shootout for sixth straight win

The Blackhawks weren't in their usual rhythm or playing at their usual pace on Friday night. Injuries were to blame for some of that. So were the New York Islanders, who are fighting for a playoff spot.

But as the third period wore on the Blackhawks were looking like themselves again. And after a few extra minutes' worth they were pulling out another one.

Artemi Panarin scored his 20th goal of the season to tie it late in regulation and Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 32 as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout on Friday night. The Blackhawks have now won 11 of their last 12, including six in a row, and are one point behind the Minnesota Wild.

Jonathan Toews notched the shootout winner for the Blackhawks, who were missing Artem Anisimov (lower body), Nick Schmaltz (illness), Johnny Oduya (ankle) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body). Now for the next three weeks they'll be without Scott Darling, who got hurt late in Friday morning's skate. A source said Darling suffered a hand injury.

The Blackhawks took a time out late in the third period, a period in which they dominated. After the Islanders boxed them out and blocked 20 shots through 40 minutes, the Blackhawks were finally getting inside. Still, Thomas Greiss was stellar, stopping 30 of 31 shots, including 14 of 15 in the third period. Panarin, however, finally got one through traffic with 1:14 remaining in regulation to tie it.

"No doubt that we have the guys to step up, make up for the loss of a few key players tonight," Toews said. "Collectively, the first 40 wasn't our best. I don't think we were playing with the speed and energy we have as of late. But we stay within one, we always know if we put some pressure on the end there's always a chance to stay in that game. Great goaltending, decent defensive play to keep us in that game as well."

Crawford looked very good in his first start since Feb. 23 – he had been ill at the end of last month. The only shot that eluded him was Brock Nelson's 2-on-1 break following the Blackhawks' second power play.

"Felt better and better as the game went on. The one goal, it was a squeaker. But I felt pretty sharp out there," Crawford said. "Thought we played well all game. We just kept playing hard, never gave up. Nice to see Bread Man get a big shot there."

Toews' shot claimed the shootout but Panarin also got one to seal it. As for his game-tying goal, Panarin looked as relieved as he did happy to get it.

"I think top players, they like scoring, making plays, getting production. But I still think there's production there between him and [Patrick Kane]. Whether he's scoring or not there's a threat and you still have to be aware of them on the ice. They have the puck a lot, present some cycle shifts that are tough to defend."

The Blackhawks were down a few players. They could get Anisimov and Schmaltz back on Saturday in Nashville. But they've gone through this all season and for the most part, they've found ways to keep getting points. 

"You're not always going to be up in every game. It's not always going to go our way," Crawford said. "We have to battle back in some games and we showed some character tonight."