Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks keep playoff hopes alive with offensive explosion

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks keep playoff hopes alive with offensive explosion

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 7-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on Monday:

1. A complete victory

All season long the Blackhawks have preached playing a full 60 minutes. They'll often go through stretches where they look great, but somewhere in between there's usually a time where their play tails off and the complete effort isn't there. That wasn't the case on Monday.

From top to bottom, the Blackhawks played one their most complete games of the season and it came at a time where their backs are against the wall. They led in shot attempts (50-39), shots on goal (34-25), 5-on-5 scoring chances (25-10) and 5-on-5 high danger chances (14-4), according to naturalstattrick.com

"We haven’t been great at home as of late, so for us to be able to buckle down again and score some goals, I know everyone’s feeling good about ourselves," Brandon Saad said. "We’ve got a tough road trip and we look forward to the challenge ahead of us."

2. Brendan Perlini and a four-line rotation

The Blackhawks shook up their lines after they returned to Chicago from a three-game West Coast trip because they weren't satisfied with the balance they were getting. But Monday was exactly what they were looking for, and easily their best four-line rotation of the season.

All 12 forwards got on the scoresheet except for Dylan Sikura, who's still looking for his first NHL goal — although he did feed Jonathan Toews a stretch pass that led to his penalty shot goal. Perlini led the way with his first career NHL hat trick against his former team for his sixth goal in five games while Chris Kunitz, Patrick Kane, Saad and Toews each found the back of the net. All four lines scored, so there's not much more you can ask for.

"It’s obviously great," Perlini said. "I just wanted to get the win in general, but to do that was awesome. I’ll never forget that one. ... I had enough breakaways. God. And then I wait until the last second to do it. I think just keeping the fans on the edge of their seat."

3. Defense shuts it down again

Going into Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn't allowed one goal or fewer since Dec. 21. Two days later and they've done it in back-to-back games.

The Blackhawks gave up only 25 shots on goal, which is tied for their second-fewest of the season. And you could make a case it should've been a shutout with Arizona's lone goal assisted by the referee after a pass along the boards fell right into the lap of the Coyotes.

"I think we’re doing a much better job of sorting defensively," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "There’s much less scrambly, we’re patient, protect the middle of the ice, get pressure on the puck and then we’re out and creating offense off that. Hopefully we can continue."

Corey Crawford was solid again, although he didn't have to make many high quality saves. He's now stopped 50 of 52 shots in his past two contests for a save percentage of .962. 

"He’s our anchor," Saad said. "He’s incredible. He comes back, doesn’t miss a beat, creating offense out there, too. It’s pretty good to have him back. He’s been great and I know we all feel confident with him in the net."

4. Making history

The Blackhawks made history on Monday. For the first time since the 2000-01 season when Tony Amonte, Eric Daze and Steve Sullivan accomplished the feat, they have three 30-goal scorers in one season: Kane (41), DeBrincat (37) and Toews (30). The Blackhawks didn't have a single 30-goal scorer last season, with DeBrincat leading the way at 28 goals.

With 13 games to go, it's possible for the Blackhawks to get to four 30-goal scorers. Saad tallied his 22nd goal of the season and is eight away from hitting that mark. His career high is 31, set during the 2015-16 season in Columbus.

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David Ayres joins Scott Foster in making emergency backup goalie history

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USA TODAY

David Ayres joins Scott Foster in making emergency backup goalie history

David Ayres is a 42-year-old Zamboni driver and, as of Saturday night, he is a man who has won a game as a netminder in the NHL.

Ayres is the emergency backup goalie (EBUG) for the Carolina Hurricanes, who are currently locked in a tight playoff race in the Eastern Conference. On Saturday, Ayres was thrust into action when Carolina suffered injuries to both starting goalie James Reimer and backup goalie Petr Mrazek. This, of course, made us think back to Chicago's favorite EBUG, Scott Foster.

Foster, an accountant, became a household name when he donned the No. 90 EBUG jersey when he debuted for the Blackhawks in 2018. Chicago was down a goalie when starting goalie Collin Delia — who was filling in for an injured Corey Crawford — went down early. This led to Foster making his unlikely seven-save debut. He was the first EBUG in NHL history to actually make a save and the fact that Foster was a perfect 7-for-7 in his time on the ice made the story even sweeter.

On Saturday, Ayres didn't maintain a perfect 1.000 save percentage like Foster but he did make some history of his own. Ayres was rattled at first, giving up two goals on the first two shots he faced but he did enough down the stretch to help the Hurricanes hold on to a quite important 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the win, Ayres is the first EBUG in league history to net a win, as Delia was credited with the win in Foster's debut in 2018.

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Rockford IceHogs matchup with Milwaukee Admirals produces the rare goalie fight

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USA TODAY

Rockford IceHogs matchup with Milwaukee Admirals produces the rare goalie fight

On Saturday night the Rockford IceHogs fell 7-2 to the Milwaukee Admirals but fans still went home happy as they got see one of the rarest occurrences in the sport of hockey: the always intriguing goalie fight.

With Rockford trailing 6-2, IceHogs goalie Matt Tomkins — who gave up the six goals on 21 shots — and Admirals goalie decided to drop the gloves and engage in some good ol' fashioned fisticuffs, the first scrap of the year for Tomkins. 

We'll leave it up to you to decide who won the fight but the Admirals certainly won the game in convincing fashion, with Milwaukee center Yakov Trenin netting a hat trick in the 7-2 win. But despite taking the tough loss, it was nice to see the IceHogs (and IndyFuel) social media having some fun with what was ultimately a very entertaining game.

The Rockford IceHogs are back in action against the Chicago Wolves on Sunday at 3 pm, with both teams locked in a tight battle for the fourth playoff spot in the Central division. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

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