After Artem Anisimov ties it in third, Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks past Sabres in OT

After Artem Anisimov ties it in third, Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks past Sabres in OT

There are ebbs and flows to every season, teams going through winning streaks and slumps.

The Blackhawks have been through both and rarely get too emotional through either. But following their come-from-behind victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, there was an overall feeling that they needed that one.

Artem Anisimov scored twice, his second forcing overtime, and Patrick Kane won it 56 seconds into that overtime as the Blackhawks beat the Sabres, 4-3. The Blackhawks remained atop the Western Conference standings (53 points) with the overtime win. The Minnesota Wild, who beat the San Jose Sharks 5-4 late Thursday night, remain one point behind the Blackhawks.

Kane had a three-point night, his goal coming off a Jonathan Toews rebound early into overtime. It was the icing on a game in which the Blackhawks played well but chased throughout nevertheless. The Blackhawks, despite never leading this one until Kane won it, were confident down the stretch.

“I think even at 3-2 we felt good about ourselves tying it up, and it was nice to get one before we had to pull the goalie and kind of lean on that,” Kane said. “I think the biggest thing is just trying to get that net-front presence and a couple big goals by there by Arty where he’s at the net, he makes a play, he’s patient, he’s able to finish it off. I think after that, you’re 3-3, you’ve got some confidence, huge getting a point there. And like I said, nice to finish it off.”

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Anisimov tied the game at 2 late in the second period before Kyle Okposo had the go-ahead power-play goal early in the third. But it was Anisimov once again, at his familiar spot in front of the net, recording the tying goal with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. It was Anisimov’s team-leading 18th goal of the season.

“He’s been great for us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I don’t even think about his production. (It’s) how effective he is to our team game, 5-on-5, faceoffs, to the net on that line, those guys can sustain a lot of pucks. When he gets to the net it enhances all our opportunities, and he finishes around there because he’s hanging around the dirty part.”

Still, the Blackhawks had to claw their way through this one throughout. They out-shot the Sabres 20-6 in the first period yet were tied at 1. That tying goal was a pretty one from Ryan Hartman, who was falling as he wristed one high over Anders Nilsson.

“I don’t know if I got tripped or not. I can say maybe I did. I don’t want to say I fell on my own,” Hartman said to laughs.

The Blackhawks could’ve fallen short again on Thursday night. Despite a lot of things going well in their game, they were close to losing another one. But they eked this one out, and you get the sense that they absolutely needed to do so.

“Certainly a big two points; kind of changed the flow we’ve had recently,” Quenneville said. “I liked the way we played tonight. I thought we had our best first period in a long stretch, maybe all year. We didn’t give up many chances, but we seemed to be behind all game. But it was a very timely goal by Arty again, great play to finish it off. Our goals were nice plays tonight. I thought we put a lot of bodies and pucks to the net. Outside of playing from behind, I thought we played one of our better games.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks offense finally opens things up as Patrick Kane starts streaking

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks offense finally opens things up as Patrick Kane starts streaking

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the changes made to the Hawks defensive zone coverage (1:50) and Patrick Kane’s current points streak (7:30). They also discuss how most of the players that have been scratched recently have had bounce-back efforts (11:20), as well as the improved play of Erik Gustafsson (18:12) and both special teams units (20:16). Plus, the debut of “Checkpoint Charlie," where Charlie gives us a taste of life on the road and his encounter with Chris Rock’s brother (29:00).

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 


Blackhawks Talk Podcast


Jeremy Colliton explains schematic change and why Blackhawks made it

Jeremy Colliton explains schematic change and why Blackhawks made it

The Blackhawks made a schematic change after their four-game road trip and they've seen the benefits of it immediately. They're 2-0-1 in their past three games and have scored 12 goals over that stretch.

We broke down on Monday what changes were made systematically and how it has freed up the offense, but head coach Jeremy Colliton elaborated on it Tuesday and explained the reasoning behind the decision.

"All it is is, our weak side forward, we pushed him up higher in defensive zone coverage," Colliton said. "Before, we had four low a lot of times, to try and overload in certain situations. That's good, it gets you out of D-zone, but the problem is when you win the puck back, a lot of times you're very close together and it's harder to make clean plays, it's harder to exit with space to make plays. So we were having trouble entering the zone.

"There's been a lot of talk about how we have been dumping too many pucks in. Well, we're not trying to dump the puck in, but when you're attacking and you don't have numbers, you don't have space in behind, you have to, you're forced too. I think we're doing a much better job of getting from D-zone clean, because we have a forward a little bit higher, there's a little more space, it happens quicker. And then I think we've done a good job with the low three [of] someone jumping by and then we can create a little bit more space off the rush and we don't have to chip it in. We can enter clean, make some plays and I think the guys are doing very well."

Patrick Kane, who has erupted for seven points (four goals, three assists) in the past three games since the change, sees the change opening up more opportunities for the Blackhawks on offense.

"I think a lot of us probably stressed that there wasn't as much flow to it, for whatever reason that was," Kane said. "They made a change and all of a sudden it seems like we have more options coming out of our end, we have more motion, more speed coming out of our end, which is always a good thing."

The Blackhawks' dump-in rate, as Colliton noted, has been much higher this season and it’s noteworthy because they generated a lot of their offense off the rush last season from mid-December and on. But what we didn’t know was the exact reason why the Blackhawks altered the way they entered the offensive zone.

Aside from the obvious answer of cutting down on neutral zone turnovers and limiting the amount of odd-man rushes against, Colliton notes the Blackhawks were forced to dump it in more because they weren’t entering the zone with numbers. The defensive scheme didn’t really allow them to.

But with the recent fundamental change, the Blackhawks have more options to exit their own zone cleanly, pick up speed through the neutral zone and do what they do best: by carrying the puck in and having more freedom to create offense. It’s something the coaching staff and players discussed with each other, and the consensus is it will maximize the talent of this group.

"We kind of felt it was time," Colliton said. "I mean, we're always talking with them for sure and guys, they want to score more. They want to produce, guys want to make plays. And so we're just trying to find the balance. We want to continue to work on being good defensively, but we've got to score more than them. I think we can still hold onto those defensive gains we've made and score more goals."

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