Blackhawks

5 Takeaways: Dominik Kubalik and Jonathan Toews help Blackhawks to OT win in Ottawa

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AP

5 Takeaways: Dominik Kubalik and Jonathan Toews help Blackhawks to OT win in Ottawa

Dominik Kubalik scored two goals and Jonathan Toews had three points to lead the Blackhawks to a 3-2 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators. Here are five takeaways:

Kubalik keeps it going

Rookie forward Dominik Kubalik stayed hot with two goals in Ottawa. He scored at 17:20 of the second period to bring the Hawks within 2-1 of the Senators and to extend his goal streak to five games.

His second goal came off a breakaway when he scored five-hole at 3:41 of the third period. He has seven goals in his last five games. 

Kubalik's 18 goals lead all NHL rookies. Buffalo Sabres forward Victor Olofsson has 16 and leads rookies in points (35). Kubalik is fourth in rookie points with 28.

Captain, captain, captain

Jonathan Toews factored into all three Blackhawks goals on Tuesday. He assisted on both of Kubalik's and scored the game-winning goal 42 seconds into overtime. He has the most overtime goals (12) since the NHL went to the 3-on-3 format (2015-16). 

Toews has 36 points in his past 36 games. 

Have to start periods strong

The Hawks have gotten into a bit of habit in not being ready to compete in the beginning of the first period. They gave up two goals on nine shots to begin the first on Tuesday and have allowed multiple first-period goals in four of their past eight games. 

Chicago also only had one shot on goal for the whole first half of the second period in Ottawa. They may have banked on flipping the switch against the 16-22-7 Senators, second to last in the Eastern Conference, but it'll take a full 60 minutes to beat most teams, especially ones like the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, who are next on the road trip.

"We really can't afford to lose many games right now," Toews said. "We weren't too happy with our start, I think all the guys came in here, it wasn't just a few guys, it was everyone that kind of acknowledged that we have a lot better than that. All five guys can go out there and support each other much better and make the job easier on the guy next to you, and lot of hockey left. I think we played pretty good hockey the last 40 (minutes)." 

Kane 1K watch 

Patrick Kane got the primary assist on Kubalik's first goal against the Senators, giving him 996 career points. Kane's shot from the slot bounced off Kubalik's shin pad and in. Kane later passed it to Toews in OT, giving him 997. 

The three-time Stanley Cup champ is currently riding a seven-game point streak with 12 points (four goals, eight assists). He has 59 points (24 goals, 35 assists) in 47 games this season. 

Welcome back, Zack

During the first TV timeout, the Senators welcomed back former Ottawa and current Chicago forward Zack Smith with a video tribute that earned a standing ovation. Smith served as an alternate captain in Ottawa for two seasons before being traded to Chicago for center Artem Anisimov on July 16. 

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Artemi Panarin and desperate Rangers set to face Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin and desperate Rangers set to face Blackhawks

When you see a highlight of Artemi Panarin making a dazzling play — usually that results in the puck finding the back of the net — you can't help but think, 'He'd really look good in a Hawks sweater... again.'

Alex DeBrincat struggling to one-time the puck from the left circle the way he used to on the man advantage is one of the factors giving the Hawks the NHL's worst power play. Artemi Panarin was the guy who used to do that for the Blackhawks, and he rarely missed. 

Alas, the man of bread is locked up for six more years after this one with the Rangers at an AAV north of $11.6 million and his contract has a no movement clause. 

In June 2017, the Blackhawks traded the dynamic winger to the Columbus Blue Jackets, along with forward Tyler Motte and a draft pick, to re-acquire Brandon Saad and get goalie Anton Forsberg and a pick. 

Panarin, now 28, had 151 points (61 goals, 90 assists) with Chicago in two seasons after signing a free agent contract on May 1, 2015. He previously played in the Kontinental Hockey League. 

The 2016 Calder Trophy winner had 169 points (55 goals, 114 assists) in two seasons with the Blue Jackets before signing with the Rangers as a free agent. 

This year, his 78 points (29 goals, 49 assists) are good for fifth in the league. 

Last year, Panarin returned to the United Center ahead of becoming a free agent and had a friendly competition with Patrick Kane to see who would be last of the ice following warmups. Kane isn't sure there will be time for pregame shenanigans with his pal before Wednesday's game.

"I think we got that faceoff tonight (40th anniversary of Miracle on Ice ceremonial puck drop with Jack O'Callahan), so it'll be interesting to see what comes of that," Kane said. "I always try to be the last on my team, not really worry about the other team, but he's having a great season. 

"Obviously an amazing player, a player that you'd pay to watch play the game. Still try to stay pretty close with him and stay in contact and just kind of catch up here and there throughout the season."

Panarin has meant a lot to a Rangers team desperate to claw back into the playoff picture while sitting eight points out, just like the Hawks.

"Unbelievable," New York center Ryan Strome (brother of Chicago center Dylan Strome) said of Panarin. "The way he controls the puck, the way he controls the play, you guys were lucky enough to see it for a few years here. 

"I think he's better now than he was then. His game's growing, he competes on pucks really hard and he's been a silent leader for us. I think everyone sees how hard he plays and how hard he works and we follow. He's been our catalyst and he's done everything we could ask of him, so he's been great."

Strome thinks the Bread Man should be in the MVP conversation as well.

"Yeah, especially if we get in the playoffs here," he said. "It would be hard not to consider him. His numbers are ridiculous. I've seen some stats about Jaromir Jagr and some ex-Rangers that have put up similar numbers to him. To be in that category is pretty special. 

"You guys have seen it firsthand, the way he acts and how much fun he has doing it I think just rubs off on everyone, too. In such a serious season and such a serious business we're in, I think to have a guy like him, he's doing his leg kick and he's lightening the mood a little bit, that stuff is contagious. That's part of his personality and part of what makes him a great player."

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Zack Smith feels fortunate after coming 'millimeter' away from season-ending injury

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USA Today

Zack Smith feels fortunate after coming 'millimeter' away from season-ending injury

Zack Smith knew immediately something was wrong. Not because of the pain but because of what happened.

In the final minute of the second period against Vancouver on Feb. 12, Smith had his left hand stepped on by a Canucks player. The television broadcast didn't pick it up, but Smith quickly threw his glove off and went straight to the locker room fearing the worst.

"It wasn't a very painful thing when it happened, it just happened and I was like, 'That's not good,'" Smith said. "You feel a skate blade step on your hand, you know it's not going to look good. The trainers said they couldn't believe there wasn't blood on the glove because I just threw it off right away and went to the bench. I was pretty worried there for a bit, and then right away doctors were able to tell me, 'It's going to be fine. Just a few stitches.' Just a short time of panic."

Smith did not return to the game, but that was the least of his worries. And the Blackhawks, who weren't exactly sure what happened.

"Yeah, scary thing," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I didn’t see it so when he came off I thought he broke his wrist or something, we didn’t really know in the moment. But when you hear what happened and see the cut, it’s not a good situation. So, obviously happy that it’s not too serious."

It could've been much worse for Smith, who practiced with the team at morning skate on Wednesday and is inching closer to a return. He was close to a potential long-term injury but is now back on the ice less than a week after the injury occurred.

"It was probably a millimeter away from being the end of my season," Smith said. "I got very lucky. A couple of stitches and a few days off is all it's taken."

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