Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Predators: Playoff push starts now?

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Predators: Playoff push starts now?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night:

1. Blackhawks fly out of the gates.

This is it. No more breaks, no more waiting for the right time to amp it up. The time is now. The Blackhawks are multiple games out of a playoff spot with the stretch run starting, and they played like a team with their backs against the wall out of the gates in their first game back since the All-Star break.

Right from the opening faceoff, there was purpose to their game and it showed after recording nine out of the game's first 11 shots on goal in the opening 15 minutes. The Predators made a late push by peppering six straight shots on goal to close out the period, but the Blackhawks held the fort down and took a 1-0 lead into the second period.

2. Fourth line makes offensive contributions.

David Kampf is the one who gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 3:03 into the game, but it took all three members of the fourth line to make it happen. Tomas Jurco kept the puck alive along the boards and Vinnie Hinostroza made a beautiful touch pass to Kampf, who ripped his second goal of the season past Juuse Saros.

It was Jurco's first point of the season while Hinostroza extended his point streak to three games. Hinostroza also scored the Blackhawks' second goal for his fifth multi-point game of his career and second this season. He has two goals and two assists over his three-game point streak.

Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz each assisted on Hinostroza's goal, and Kane had to take a big hit to make the play. With the assist, Kane has 50 points on the season and has hit that total in each of his 11 NHL seasons.

3. Anton Forsberg commits costly turnover.

This is an area where Corey Crawford is missed. Forsberg isn't the best at handling the puck, and he made a costly error that directly led to the Predators' only goal.

Mattias Ekholm dumped the puck in, Forsberg retrieved it behind his own net, then made a pass intended for Connor Murphy but was intercepted by Craig Smith, who passed it to Scott Hartnell then set up Kyle Turris to even up the score at 1-1 just 2:12 into the second period.

Fortunately for Forsberg, he came up large in the second period aside from that blunder and kept it a tie game before the Blackhawks eventually jumped out in front 2-1.

4. Predators catch a break.

The Blackhawks regained the lead at the 14:33 mark of the second period, and 39 seconds later they were awarded a power play after Kevin Fiala was whistled for cross-checking. Seven seconds after that, Ryan Ellis flipped the puck over the glass but officials huddled up and came to the conclusion that it was deflected out of play.

Replay angles clearly showed that was not the case, and they may have actually had a point as to whether or not the puck went over the bench or the glass but that wasn't discussed. So rather than getting a 5-on-3 power play for 1:53, the Blackhawks were stuck with just the 5-on-4 and they couldn't do anything with it.

It would've been a prime opportunity to take a two-goal lead into the second period against a Predators team that was 0-9-2 this season when trailing after 40 minutes going into this game. Needless to say, Joel Quenneville was not happy about it.

5. Shutting the door.

You can go back and pick a couple games in January where the Blackhawks probably deserved two points but never got them. The 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 10 and 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 22 immediately come to mind, where they did many things right but just couldn't find a way to get a win and that's what matters most at this point.

There are no moral victories anymore. Well, the Blackhawks found a way to pick up two points against the Predators despite getting outshot 22-9 in the third period. They bent but didn't break as Forsberg turned aside all 22 of those shots and finished with a season-high 42 saves.

It was one of those "we'll take it" games, and one where you'll build on the positives and take some confidence into Vancouver on Thursday.

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's 250th win puts him in elite company

untitled-2.png
AP

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's 250th win puts him in elite company

Corey Crawford captured a coveted goalie milestone with another solid performance in a 2-1 shootout victory for the Blackhawks on Friday in New Jersey. The Hawks (12-12-5) beat the Atlantic division-leading Bruins 4-3 in overtime in Boston with Robin Lehner in net on Thursday before playing the Devils, last in the Metropolitan, Friday with Crawford starting. 

"It's important to try to climb back up in the standings," Crawford said following the game. "We had a few tough games, it seems like it's been pretty streaky the first quarter of the season, but when we're playing well I think we're pretty tough to beat. We just got to try to find that game as much as possible. 

"But that was obviously a big win to start it and against one of the best teams in the league (the Bruins) and having a big lead too, going late into the third period, and then a team that's a little bit lower in the standings (the Devils), but you still have to come out hard and play, no games are easy. It was pretty competitive out there but it's nice to find a way to win." 

The two-time Stanley Cup champ saved 29 of 30 shots through overtime, including a Miles Wood breakaway with 11 seconds remaining in the second period and the game tied 1-1. He also stopped three of five New Jersey Devils shooters including Taylor Hall and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes in the shootout. 

Crawford became the 59th goalie in NHL history to record 250 wins. The 34-year-old is one of 13 active NHL goalies and just the third Hawks netminder to reach the milestone.

Crawford is 250-149-52 in 464 games with the Blackhawks and has 26 shutouts. 

5 Takeaways: Blackhawks win 2-1 in shootout vs. Devils

untitled-1.png
AP

5 Takeaways: Blackhawks win 2-1 in shootout vs. Devils

The Blackhawks won 2-1 against the New Jersey Devils in a shootout on Friday. Here are five takeaways:

Top to bottom

The Hawks were looking to establish some momentum in Jersey following a big win Thursday in Boston. Jonathan Toews scored in overtime and Alex DeBrincat ended a 12-game goal drought to help the Hawks to a 4-3 OT win over the Bruins, ending the Blackhawks' 3-game losing streak in which they were outscored 16-5. 

Going from facing the first place team in the Atlantic division (second in the NHL) on Thursday to the last place team in the Metropolitan division (second to last in the league) on Friday proved to be tougher than imagined. 

Alex DeBrincat scored the lone regulation goal for Chicago and Kirby Dach, the No. 3 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, scored the final goal of the shootout and set up No. 1 pick Jack Hughes to get stopped by Corey Crawford for the 2-1 final score. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also scored in the shootout for the Blackhawks.

Crow 250

Corey Crawford won his 250th NHL game on Friday. The two-time Stanley Cup champ is the 59th goalie in NHL history to reach the milestone and one of 13 active netminders to do so. The 34-year-old is the third goalie to reach 250 wins with the Blackhawks. 

Crawford saved 29 of 30 New Jersey shots ahead of the shootout. 

Cat on the prowl 

DeBrincat scored his second goal in two games after not lighting the lamp in his previous 12. This is a good sign for the forward, who is known to score in bunches.

Gilbert getting noticed

Dennis Gilbert skated in his second straight game with the Hawks with Olli Maatta (flu-like symptoms) missing both contents on the road trip. Gilbert had a solid game in Boston Thursday and improved his case Friday, putting a big hit on Hughes then having a decent showing after answering the bell with Wayne Simmonds.

Kane watch

Kane tied Andy Bathgate for 93rd on the NHL career points list (973), assisting on DeBrincat's second period goal.