Blackhawks

Blackhawks "finally starting to full buy-in to the system"

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AP

Blackhawks "finally starting to full buy-in to the system"

The Blackhawks just didn't fall into a five-game winning streak that saw Patrick Kane surpass the elite 1,000-point milestone. 

The streak and the fun, meaningful hockey we've been watching the Hawks play lately took everyone on the bench and in the room getting on board.

"We're finally starting to full buy-in to the system," said Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner, who saved 36 of 38 shots to help defeat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Sunday night. "Full effort level, doing the right things at the right times. 15 games ago, we started playing good with leads, playing different, not backing up, just keep going at it. 

"We did the same thing (Sunday) in the third. Not just backing up that whole period, we went after them. 

"Everyone's just doing their job, and we're starting to feel (that) doing those things gets you rewarded, and everyone just keeps doing it. We're doing well but we've just got to keep doing it because every point is crucial.

"It's a learning curve. You don't just step into this league and everything's going to click for you. It's very seldom very few players do that. All of our young guys are starting to play really well. Every line, our D pair, everyone's just clicking and we're doing the right things. We've just got to keep that up, we can't deviate from it and just keep trying to stay consistent."

For now, the Hawks have been effectively utilizing head coach Jeremy Colliton's system and playing well enough as a unit to not only win five straight, but tie the Jets in the Western Conference to sit just three points out of a Wild Card spot. 

A sign of the good times was the Blackhawks swarming Patrick Kane to celebrate his 1,000th NHL point milestone in the third period of Sunday's game. Players jumped over the bench to congratulate Kane for the greatest sight the United Center has seen since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on home ice in 2015.

"Our habits are better and we’re protecting each other with how we play," Colliton said. "That’s a big thing. And with that, you gain confidence. You gain confidence that the guy beside you is going to do the right thing, there’s a little bit of peer pressure as well to do it for him. 

"We’re improving, too. we have a bunch of guys who are getting better. They’re developing, becoming more and more comfortable in the NHL or maybe it’s an increased role in the NHL and with our team. Hopefully that will continue."

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Blackhawks trade goalie Robin Lehner to Golden Knights

Blackhawks trade goalie Robin Lehner to Golden Knights

The Blackhawks made a major last-minute trade deadline move Monday, dealing goalie Robin Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights in a three-team deal.

Chicago sent Lehner to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for winger Martins Dzierkals, a 22-year-old unsigned draft pick. Lehner and Dzierkals were then traded to Vegas, netting the Blackhawks goaltender Malcolm Subban, defenseman Slava Demin and Vegas' second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Toronto received Vegas' fifth-round pick and retained some of Lehner's salary for helping complete the deal.

Subban has an .890 save percentage in 19 starts with the Golden Knights this season. Demin is a teammate of Hawks' prospect Ian Mitchell, also a D man, at Denver. 

Lehner signed a one-year, $5 million free-agent contract with Chicago the past offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent after this year. 

The 28-year-old netminder - who was a Vezina Trophy finalist last year with the New York Islanders - was 16-10-5 as a Hawk this season with 3.01 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and zero shutouts.

Lehner and Chicago goalie Corey Crawford had been evenly splitting the net for the Blackhawks. Crawford has a 2.80 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and one shutout this season. 

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Blackhawks trade Erik Gustafsson to Flames ahead of NHL deadline

Blackhawks trade Erik Gustafsson to Flames ahead of NHL deadline

The Blackhawks traded defenseman Erik Gustafsson to the Calgary Flames, the club announced Monday. In return, the Hawks acquired the earlier of Calgary's two third-round picks.

The puck-carrying defenseman had 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) with the Hawks this season after finishing last year with a career-high 60 points (17 goals, 43 assists). 

The 27-year-old blueliner carries a $1.2 million cap hit and will become an unrestricted free agent after this season. 

The Swede had 116 points (28 goals, 88 assists) in four seasons with the Blackhawks after being selected No. 93 overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. 

Gustafsson admitted his uncertain future was weighing on him in Chicago this season. 

"I don't know how I can't block it away," Gustafsson told NBC Sports Chicago earlier this month. "At the start of the year I was nervous going in, if I'm going to sign here or if I'm going to be traded or something like that. I think that just affected my game and I was thinking about that instead of thinking about my game on the ice."

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