Ottawa Senators

Five takeaways from Blackhawks 8-2 win over Senators: Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz lead power play to big night

Five takeaways from Blackhawks 8-2 win over Senators: Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz lead power play to big night

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 8-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre:

1. Richard Panik ends lengthy scoring drought.

Coming off a game in which he logged only 10:53 of ice time and was a healthy scratch almost a week ago in New York, Panik turned in arguably his best effort of the season in this one.

The Senators had 13 scoring chances at 5-on-5 in the first period compared to the Blackhawks' 2, but it was the latter who capitalized on their chances. Panik picked up a trickling puck in the slot after it was blocked and slapped home a shot that put the Blackhawks up 1-0 with 1:09 left in the opening frame.

It was Panik's sixth goal of the season, but just his first since Oct. 21 — a span of 27 games — and first 5-on-5 goal since Oct. 7, the second game of the season. Panik finished the game with nine shot attempts (five on goal), two hits, one takeaway and one blocked shot in 13:47 of ice time.

2. Patrick Sharp getting hot.

Since being a healthy scratch in back-to-back games against Edmonton and Calgary to close out 2017, the 36-year-old's stick is heating up and he's had the scoring touch as of late that's helped him become an eight-time 20-goal scorer in this league. Sharp responded to the message by scoring a goal in a 5-2 win over the Rangers last Wednesday that turned out to be the game winner, and scored another against the Vegas Golden Knights two days later.

Well, he kept his success in 2018 going when he fired a 48-foot wrist shot that got past goaltender Craig Anderson for a 2-0 Blackhawks lead at the 5:14 mark of the second period. Sharp has scored three goals in his last four games after failing to find the back of the net in his previous 12. It's even more impressive when you consider he scored only three goals in his first 35 games of the season.

Encouraging for Chicago to see the bounces going Sharp's way, and perhaps it can serve as a spark offensively.

3. Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz lead power play to big night.

Going into the game, the Blackhawks had the third-worst power play in the league with a 14.4 percent success rate and were 0-for-9 in that department over their last four games. But they took full advantage of going up against the fourth-worst penalty kill unit (76.3 percent) by scoring a season-high four goals with the man advantage, three of which came in the second period.

Schmaltz scored the first two, Jan Rutta got the third one and Kane scored the fourth, while assisting on each of the first three. Kane had registered three assists in a game 11 times in his NHL career, but this was the first time he recorded four and he became the seventh Blackhawks player to ever do that in one period, joining Doug Bentley, Bill Mosienko, Jim Wiste, Cliff Koroll, Jim Pappin and Patrick Sharp. Kane's five-point game was also a new career high after collecting four points in a game six times in his career.

Schmaltz has five goals during his career-high four-game goal streak, and 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his last seven games. His 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 38 games this season is also a new career high; he had 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) in 61 games last season.

As a team, the Blackhawks hadn't scored three power-play goals in a game all season and it was their first time scoring four since Feb. 15, 2016 in a 7-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs when they went 4-for-7.

4. Jonathan Toews looking like Jonathan Toews again.

The Blackhawks go as their captain goes, and boy is he rolling. This is the best stretch of hockey he's played all season and it's not close.

With a two-goal night, Toews extended his point streak to five games after previously going a season-long six games without a point. He has five goals and four assists during his point streak, which has included four multi-point efforts.

The Blackhawks are 4-1-1 in their last six games and have moved back into a wild card spot in the Western Conference (for now) in large part because of No. 19 looking like No. 19 again.

5. Will Brent Seabrook get back into the lineup Wednesday?

It was probably hard for Blackhawks fans to see a three-time Stanley Cup champion and staple on the blue line for more than a decade be a healthy scratch even though it may have been warranted. And it wasn't a bad time to do it, against an Ottawa team that has been extremely underwhelming this season and it being the first of a back-to-back.

But will Joel Quenneville reinsert him back into the lineup against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday? It will be difficult to break up the pairings after having a hand in the eight-goal outburst, and five of the six defensemen collecting at least a point in the victory. Duncan Keith and Jordan Oesterle each tallied two assists, Jan Rutta scored his first goal since Nov. 12 while Michal Kempny and Connor Murphy each added an apple of their own and had a plus-2 rating as a pairing.

Despite all that, don't expect Seabrook to be watching for the press box very long. 

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Senators

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash 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 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Can the first line keep rolling?

Nothing but good things have happened since Vinnie Hinostroza was put on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. They've spent four games together and have combined for 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists), helping the Blackhawks go 2-1-1 during that stretch.

Hinostroza has added an element of speed up front, which has certainly complemented the game's Toews and Saad like to play. When the latter two players are rolling, usually the Blackhawks are too so it's important for them to keep building off this success.

2. Tomas Jurco's season debut?

After putting together a solid first half of the season in Rockford, the Blackhawks recalled Jurco on Monday to see whether or not he can carry over that offensive production to the big club.

Jurco ranks second on the IceHogs with 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists), and scored a goal in three of his last four games before getting brought up. Richard Panik drew back into the lineup on Sunday against Edmonton for John Hayden, who was sent down to Rockford, but Panik was underwhelming in only 10:53 of ice time. Expect Jurco to be subbed in for Panik on the fourth line tonight.

3. Banged-up Sens.

The Senators had a rough December, but January has been kind to them so far. They've picked up five out of a possible six points, and are coming off a big 6-3 win over Tampa Bay.

But they're fighting the injury bug right now. Nate Thompson has been ruled out tonight with a lower-body injury. Matt Duchene has the flu. Derick Brassard, Cody Ceci and Johnny Oduya are also all nursing injuries, as is Mark Borowiecki (concussion), who was cleared to practice and might return if they're shorthanded on defense.

Senators coach Guy Boucher told the media Monday morning that all of those players on the injury list mentioned above "could be all out and they could be all in." So it will likely be a gametime decision for each of them.

Johnny Oduya finds a new home in Eastern Conference

Johnny Oduya finds a new home in Eastern Conference

Johnny Oduya is headed to the Eastern Conference.

The 35-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Ottawa Senators. The contract could be worth up to $1.25 million with incentives.

Oduya, who the Blackhawks re-acquired prior to the trade deadline last season from the Dallas Stars, finished with two goals and seven assists in 52 games between the two teams.

It comes to no one's surprise that the Blackhawks didn't re-sign the veteran defenseman.

After being swept in the first round of the playoffs last season by the Nashville Predators, Stan Bowman has made it clear the Blackhawks are headed in a different direction, and their offseason has been plenty of busy so far. Headline deals included trading Oduya's linemate Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for 24-year-old defenseman Connor Murphy and re-acquiring Brandon Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Artemi Panarin.

Oduya heads to a Senators team which got ousted in the Eastern Conference Final in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.