Blackhawks

Blackhawks acquire Oduya; deal Scott

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Blackhawks acquire Oduya; deal Scott

The Blackhawks have been struggling defensively all season. And in the aftermath of the Brian Campbell trade, the onus of his work was put on rookies or guys not far removed from that status.

In acquiring Johnny Oduya today, the Blackhawks hope to alleviate that.

The Blackhawks got Oduya from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a second- and third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The move filled general manager Stan Bowmans desire to get a defenseman, and gave the Blackhawks another veteran presence back there.

His style fits in with what we do here in terms of ability to skate, Bowman said. Hes one of the better skating defensemen in the NHL. Hes got a lot of experience, hes played on good teams and hes played a lot of minutes. With our team right now hell be a nice, calming influence on some of our players.

For the 30-year-old Oduya, who spoke via conference call on Monday afternoon, its another opportunity.

Theres excitement, for sure, said Oduya, who will be at Blackhawks practice Tuesday and is expected to play Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Any time youre in a position where youre battling for a whole year, you obviously dont want to leave your teammates or friends behind. But theres an excitement getting to Chicago. Its a really good team and a great place to play.

Oduya has played more penalty kill than power play and said he isnt afraid to block shots he has 98 of those so far this season. Oduya is also a puck-moving defenseman. No, hes not Campbell. But hes more used to playing that style of game, while youngsters like Nick Leddy and Dylan Olsen were thrown into that work with little experience at it this season.

Weve got some young guys -- Leddys just got 100 games under his belt and Dylans come in and played as well. But we could use that experience, Bowman said of Oduya. The way he can skate with the puck and make plays, I think he can eat up important minutes with our defense. Its a crucial time for our team, but solidifying that back end is something weve talked about for a long time. He brings a lot to the mix.

The Blackhawks defensive corps got a lot younger when Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador went out with their injuries. Both Leddy and Olsen have promise, but heaping so much on their shoulders at such a young age could hinder more than help. Will Oduya help the Blackhawks defense right the ship? Is he enough? The Blackhawks have a tough final stretch looming. Theyre hoping this gives them a little more security along the blue line.

In terms of where hell fit I dont know, Bowman said. But I expect him to eat up a lot of the minutes that are being spread around right now.

Blackhawks recall Kirby Dach from AHL conditioning stint

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AP

Blackhawks recall Kirby Dach from AHL conditioning stint

Six days after being assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach has been recalled by the Blackhawks, the team announced late Friday night. He is not eligible to play in the AHL full-time this season, but he was allowed to stay in Rockford for up to 14 days on a conditioning stint, according to CBA rules.

Dach, who was sidelined for the first week of training camp with a concussion, appeared in three games with the IceHogs and was held off the scoresheet in each of them. He started on the fourth line in the first game, got promoted to the third in the second and played on the first line with Matthew Highmore and Dylan Sikura on Friday night against the Chicago Wolves.

The Blackhawks are coming off a 3-2 overtime victory over Columbus to improve to 2-0-1 in their past three games, and that helps ease Dach into the equation with the team riding some positive momentum. The next game is on Sunday at 6 p.m. against the Washington Capitals, which is possibly when he'll make his NHL debut.

Where Dach fits into the four-line rotation is unclear and will be interesting to monitor. It's possible he starts on the wing, especially with the third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad clicking. Before Dach was assigned to Rockford, he was taking practice reps with Jonathan Toews and alternating on the wing with Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks penalty kill 'excellent' in overtime win over Blue Jackets

Four takeaways: Blackhawks penalty kill 'excellent' in overtime win over Blue Jackets

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the United Center on Friday:

1. Blackhawks stringing together points

The Blackhawks turned in their best 60-minute effort of the season on Monday and they wanted to build on that performance after a three-day layoff. The start was slow against Columbus, but the finish was strong and it ended on a Jonathan Toews overtime goal.

After starting the season with back-to-back losses in regulation, the Blackhawks have picked up five out of a possible six points in their past three games. They're starting to climb in the standings.

"That's a hard-working team," Toews said. "They've got some skill, they played well as a team and they didn't give us much room out there. It's probably not our best start, there's a lot of things that we know we can do better, but for us to hang in there and tie things up, give ourselves a chance in overtime, get the crowd into it, you've got to find ways to win those games, can't let them slip, so it's nice to get two points."

2. Penalty kill 'excellent'

The Blue Jackets came into the game with a bottom-third-ranked special teams, converting on 17.8 percent of their power plays and killing off 73.7 percent of their penalties. This was an area the Blackhawks could exploit, and they did.

The Blackhawks went 1-for-4 on the power play thanks to an Alex DeBrincat goal, but it was the penalty kill that allowed the team to be in it till the very end. The Blackhawks killed off all four penalties, including a crucial one late in the third period to keep the game knotted up at 2-2.

"I thought the penalty kill was excellent," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We were really good. At any point, if they score and they had multiple chances, it really changes the game. It allowed our power play, in the end, to come through and make a difference for us. That was big, and I thought they were full value for not getting scored on, too. We didn’t give up much. Just as likely to score going the other way."

3. Coming out on top in the first period 

The Blackhawks were outplayed in the first period, which hasn't usually been the case this season. The Blue Jackets led in every statistically category except the one that matters the most and that's the scoreboard. It easily could've gone the other way.

But the Blackhawks survived when they weren't at their best, and Drake Caggiula opened the scoring with a beautiful shot at the 15:35 mark of the opening frame. It's the fourth straight game the Blackhawks have scored first.

"Didn’t love our first period," Colliton said. "I think we were fortunate to be in the lead. I did like our response in the second. Even though they tied it up I thought we played much better in the second period. And after that, I thought we were reasonably solid. ... It wasn’t perfect but it’s also a positive that we found a way to win anyway."

4. Robin Lehner turns in another strong effort

The Blackhawks don't get out of the first period with the lead without Lehner, who finished with 37 saves on 39 shots for a save percentage of .949. He stopped all 13 shots in the first 20 minutes, a majority of which were high quality.

The first goal to Pierre-Luc Dubois, Lehner committed to the poke-check but then got caught too far out of the net. Otherwise, he was strong between the pipes for the Blackhawks.

"I felt really good," Lehner said. "Feel like I see the puck well but the first two games I've played I've also made some mistakes and the good thing those mistakes are pretty easy to clean up. So I felt like the first goal is unacceptable but I made up for it. So just got to go and keep trying to get better.

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