Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks blank Blues to end losing skid, give Jeremy Colliton first win

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks blank Blues to end losing skid, give Jeremy Colliton first win

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 1-0 win over the St. Louis Blues at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Jeremy Colliton's first NHL win

For the first time since Oct. 25, the Blackhawks are back in the win column. A weight has been lifted off their shoulders after going winless in their previous eight games (0-6-2).

But it was an extra special night for the Blackhawks, who helped Colliton earn his first victory as an NHL head coach and celebrated by giving him the game puck.

"I’m just here to help them," Colliton said. "So it's kind of awkward, actually. But I do appreciate the gesture and for me, it’s just, hopefully we can get some momentum going and build on it."

2. Corey Crawford puts up a goose egg

Going into the game, Crawford had a 3.07 goals against average and .901 save percentage, which are below average numbers. But he certainly hasn't played that way. He was often the Blackhawks' best player during their losing streak and has deserved better fate than he's gotten.

By stopping all 28 shots he faced, Crawford earned his first shutout since Nov. 4, 2017 when he made 24 saves in a 2-0 win over the Minnesota Wild.

"It's nice," Crawford said. "That's the goal, not let any in. But I thought everyone contributed to that. ... We've been waiting a while, kind of forgot what it was like to win there for a bit."

3. Power play breaks through

Finally. After an 0-for-10 drought, the Blackhawks scored a power play goal on their first try of the night and didn't need much time to do it.

Just 35 seconds into a Vladimir Tarasenko hooking penalty, Brent Seabrook cashed in after his shot trickled past Jake Allen and went in off a Blues defenseman's skate to make it 1-0 at 4:05 of the second period. It was the only goal of the game, proving to be the game-winner. 

The Blackhawks finished 1-for-2 in that department against a Blues team that came into the game with a 27.6 percent success rate, which ranked fifth in the NHL.

"It's a good feeling," Seabrook said. "It was nice to hear some music when they came in here after the game tonight. The boys are all fired up. The way we played going into the second period, being able to score a goal, hold onto the lead I think the way everybody played. Everybody stuck with it. Everybody stuck with the game plan. Everybody worked hard. It was a real team effort. ... It took all 20 guys out there tonight to get the job done."

4. Playing the right way leads to results

For six periods in a row, the Blackhawks have been either the better team or it was evenly matched. Giving up two power-play goals in 66 seconds to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday was basically the difference in that game and special teams played a major role in this one as well. 

Colliton felt like the Blackhawks were, overall, trending in the right direction despite not getting the end results over the previous three games. He got both against the Blues, which was fitting considering the losing streak started vs. St. Louis.

"That was the part of the package that was missing," Colliton said. "Happy for the guys to get rewarded. It’s not a lot of fun to see the results add up. Very happy for the group, they battled really hard, especially in the third when the game was on the line. We found a way to get some pucks out and win some 50-50s and got a couple saves and hopefully that relieves a little bit of the tension in the team and they can play a little more free. Because we’ve been talking about it, but it’s easier said than done."

Blackhawks hoping to get players back on road trip

Blackhawks hoping to get players back on road trip

The Blackhawks were still without Duncan Keith (groin injury) and Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol) at practice on Wednesday before hopping on a flight to Boston for Thursday's game and then to New Jersey for Friday. 

With Keith out, defenseman Dennis Gilbert was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL and participated in practice. 

Dylan Strome (concussion protocol) and Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol) will travel with the team and will be evaluated prior to Thursday's game per Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton. Olli Maatta missed practice with "flu-like symptoms" but should be good against the Bruins. Robin Lehner, who missed Monday's game with the flu, practiced Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Tough matchup

The Blackhawks, 1-5-1 in their past seven games and last place in the Central division, will have their work cut out for them against the Bruins, who sit in first of the Atlantic division and haven't lost a regulation game at home.

"We know we have to be better at the end of the day," Hawks rookie Kirby Dach said. "It kind of starts from the top and comes all the way down, we have to find a way to compete every night, pull the rope in the same way. With the leadership group we have, they've been through so much, I'm confident in them and our coaching staff to help us, especially me, get through this."

New Jersey, last in the Metropolitan division, could be a different story. The struggling Devils underwent a coaching change, firing head coach John Hynes and naming Alain Nasreddine interim head coach a couple hours before their 4-3 loss to the Golden Knights on Tuesday.

Close one

Patrick Kane went in early during practice after incidental content with Zack Smith's arm during a drill, but Colliton said he'll be fine and good to go Thursday. 

Moms! 

The Blackhawks players will be accompanied by their mothers on the road for the annual mom's trip.

"I think it’ll give everyone a boost," Colliton said. "It’s always nice to have family around and obviously whether it’s moms or important people in your life, it’ll be good for the group to have them around."

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A decade since the Blackhawks signed Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane to extensions

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USA Today

A decade since the Blackhawks signed Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane to extensions

On Dec. 3, 2009, the Blackhawks wrote some of the grandest chapters of their rich history, along with some checks to fund them. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith all signed contract extensions with the Hawks on this day before going on the lift the Stanley Cup three times in a Hawks sweater.

Toews was 21 and the youngest captain in the NHL at the time he inked his five-year extension with a $6.3 million average annual value. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and Selke and Conn Smythe trophy winner played his 900th game with the Blackhawks on Monday and has 769 points (331 goals, 438 assists) with Chicago.

Kane, whose extension mirrored Toews', was also 21 at the time of the deal and went on to capture Calder, Art Ross, Conn Smythe and Hart trophies in addition to being the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NHL Draft and grabbing Olympic silver. Kane has 971 points (370 goals, 601 assists) in 930 games with the Hawks.

Toews and Kane signed another extension on July 9, 2014, with equal terms sporting an average annual value of $10.5 million through eight years. It was the highest AAV in the league when the contracts kicked in during the 2015-16 season. They are locked up through 2022-23 with a no movement clause.

Keith was 26 when he signed his 13-year extension with an AAV of $5.54 million. The defenseman, currently out with a groin injury, went on to win a Conn Smythe and two Norris trophies in addition to two Olympic gold medals. He's under contract with a no movement clause through 2022-23. Keith has a career +/- rating of +157 and 589 points (99 goals, 490 assists) in 1102 games with the Hawks.

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