Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin lifts Blackhawks past Islanders in shootout for sixth straight win

Artemi Panarin lifts Blackhawks past Islanders in shootout for sixth straight win

The Blackhawks weren't in their usual rhythm or playing at their usual pace on Friday night. Injuries were to blame for some of that. So were the New York Islanders, who are fighting for a playoff spot.

But as the third period wore on the Blackhawks were looking like themselves again. And after a few extra minutes' worth they were pulling out another one.

Artemi Panarin scored his 20th goal of the season to tie it late in regulation and Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 32 as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout on Friday night. The Blackhawks have now won 11 of their last 12, including six in a row, and are one point behind the Minnesota Wild.

Jonathan Toews notched the shootout winner for the Blackhawks, who were missing Artem Anisimov (lower body), Nick Schmaltz (illness), Johnny Oduya (ankle) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body). Now for the next three weeks they'll be without Scott Darling, who got hurt late in Friday morning's skate. A source said Darling suffered a hand injury.

The Blackhawks took a time out late in the third period, a period in which they dominated. After the Islanders boxed them out and blocked 20 shots through 40 minutes, the Blackhawks were finally getting inside. Still, Thomas Greiss was stellar, stopping 30 of 31 shots, including 14 of 15 in the third period. Panarin, however, finally got one through traffic with 1:14 remaining in regulation to tie it.

"No doubt that we have the guys to step up, make up for the loss of a few key players tonight," Toews said. "Collectively, the first 40 wasn't our best. I don't think we were playing with the speed and energy we have as of late. But we stay within one, we always know if we put some pressure on the end there's always a chance to stay in that game. Great goaltending, decent defensive play to keep us in that game as well."

Crawford looked very good in his first start since Feb. 23 – he had been ill at the end of last month. The only shot that eluded him was Brock Nelson's 2-on-1 break following the Blackhawks' second power play.

"Felt better and better as the game went on. The one goal, it was a squeaker. But I felt pretty sharp out there," Crawford said. "Thought we played well all game. We just kept playing hard, never gave up. Nice to see Bread Man get a big shot there."

Toews' shot claimed the shootout but Panarin also got one to seal it. As for his game-tying goal, Panarin looked as relieved as he did happy to get it.

"I think top players, they like scoring, making plays, getting production. But I still think there's production there between him and [Patrick Kane]. Whether he's scoring or not there's a threat and you still have to be aware of them on the ice. They have the puck a lot, present some cycle shifts that are tough to defend."

The Blackhawks were down a few players. They could get Anisimov and Schmaltz back on Saturday in Nashville. But they've gone through this all season and for the most part, they've found ways to keep getting points. 

"You're not always going to be up in every game. It's not always going to go our way," Crawford said. "We have to battle back in some games and we showed some character tonight."
 

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.