Blackhawks

Blackhawks battle back to defeat rival Red Wings

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Blackhawks battle back to defeat rival Red Wings

Marian Hossa still has plenty of friends from his days with the Detroit Red Wings. On Friday, the Blackhawks winger competed against them like they were the bitterest of enemies.

Hossa scored the tying goal in a stellar performance, and Brent Seabrook added the game-winner early in the third period of the Blackhawks 3-2 victory over the Wings on Friday night. It was an energetic and entertaining game at the United Center, as the Blackhawks came back from two one-goal deficits to take a five-point lead over the Wings in the Central Division.

And Hossa was, well, Hossa: coming with speed, controlling the puck and generally being a nuisance to the Wings all night.

Ive got lots of friends on the other team, and youre always going to remember that year, to be there, Hossa said. But when I play against former teams I dont think about it different. I try to play the same way.

Hossas ability to control allowed him to set up his own goal. He got to the left circle and let one rip, beating Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard high to tie the game 2-2 at the time.

I got the puck down low and I tried to get my speed and I tried to hit open ice and there was nothing open in the middle so I tried to go around, Hossa said. All of a sudden I was kind of alone so I tried to use the space and tried to release it quick.

It was a strong performance from the Blackhawks across the board, from Jonathan Toews big penalty shot early to the Blackhawks defensive stifling the Wings chances late. And for Seabrook, it was the fourth consecutive game hes scored against the Red Wings.

I dont know what it is, Seabrook said of his streak vs. Detroit. Obviously we have to be prepared for defensive side of the game (against Detroit). Its one of those things; its nice if we can contribute to that end of the ice and get a big win.

The Blackhawks were down 1-0 when Toews was awarded a penalty shot on a Nicklas Lidstrom hook. Toews beat Howard five-hole, tying the game and re-energizing the building.

I couldnt believe I got a second chance on that one but I was thankful for it, Toews said. It was a nice pass by (Niklas Hjalmarsson), I just kind of lost the puck there and the guy got his stick on me. Sometimes they dont always see that but it was nice to get the second chance on the penalty shot and I made no mistake there. It was a good feeling to get that one.

Howard said he figured Toews would go that way.

Thats his move to go five-hole, so I was prepared for it, he said. I just didnt get the legs closed fast enough.

Seabrooks shot gave the Blackhawks the lead just 1:52 into the third period. Thats a long time to try and shut down a potent Detroit team. But the Blackhawks did it, keeping some of their top players to very few opportunities. Henrik Zetterberg had just one shot in the game, Pavel Datsyuk had none.

We were quick in the puck areas, had good sticks, pressured well and had a good gap, so that helped definitely, coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks got that complete game they needed and held tight in the third period. It was a good test against a formidable longtime foe, and the Blackhawks passed.

We were going to stay patient, Toews said. We stuck with it going into the third period. We were confident we were going to use our crowd and energy and find a way to win. We did that.

What adjustments Blackhawks could make against Oilers for Game 3

What adjustments Blackhawks could make against Oilers for Game 3

The Blackhawks set the tone in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers by dominating at even strength and potting three power-play goals against the second-ranked penalty kill.

The Edmonton Oilers flipped the script and made the correct adjustments in Game 2, scoring 19 seconds into the game and never giving up control of it.

It's the Blackhawks' turn to counter in Game 3.

As the home team for Games 3 and 4, head coach Jeremy Colliton and his staff will have the luxury of last line change. That means the Blackhawks can decide which trio goes up against Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, who netted a hat trick on Monday.

But before getting into lineup adjustments, the first emphasis for the Blackhawks should be scoring the first goal. Well, it always should be.

"I'm pretty sure it's important to score the first goal no matter what, who you're playing," Duncan Keith said after practice on Tuesday. "That would help to try and win the game." 

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In Game 1, the Blackhawks fell behind 1-0 just 2:34 into the opening frame. In Game 2, they trailed 2-0 in the first 4:05. 

Only two teams had more wins during the regular season when scoring first than the Oilers (29). On the contrary, the Oilers had the sixth-worst points percentage (.250) when giving up the first goal. 

Scoring first is always crucial, but it feels even more significant against a high-powered offense like the Oilers.

"It’s two games in a row where we have to come from behind," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "It’s not a position we want to be in. I think we had a good start in Game 1, they score on the power play. Big difference from our start in Game 2.

"From our perspective we want to do the right things right from the puck drop. Sometimes a bounce goes for or against you but more so it’s how we perform shift to shift that gives us a chance to win the game. Hopefully results in the first goal, but if it doesn’t, we have a high level of play we’ve got to believe we’ll come back."

The Blackhawks were without Drake Caggiula in Game 2 after an illegal check to the head on Oilers forward Tyler Ennis in Game 1 resulted in a one-game suspension. John Quenneville took his spot in the lineup, but the Blackhawks were ultimately forced to double-shift Patrick Kane throughout the course of the game after falling behind quickly, which disrupted the line flow.

The Blackhawks will likely go back to their Game 1 rotation, and they should, even though things clicked immediately when Kane was put on a line with Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat. But it will be interesting to see how Colliton matches his group against the Oilers.

In Game 1, Dave Tippett and his staff tried exploiting the Blackhawks' fourth line of Ryan Carpenter, David Kampf and Matthew Highmore by making them defend McDavid, who was a non-factor at even strength. Leon Draisaitl's line, mainly, went up against the Blackhawks' third line of Caggiula, Dach and DeBrincat.

Will the Blackhawks try freeing up Kane and Jonathan Toews offensively by using the same tactic or does it make more sense to match the first two lines against Edmonton’s top guns as much as possible? There's a case to be made for both sides.

Exactly one week before the NHL put its season on pause, the Blackhawks played the Oilers at the United Center and beat them 4-3. Toews' line drew the McDavid matchup and Kane's line went up against Draisaitl, so perhaps we could see that again, at least to start.

It’s a game of chess, and the Blackhawks must use having the last move to their advantage.

When Mario Lemieux and Michael J. Fox owned part of Russian hockey team

When Mario Lemieux and Michael J. Fox owned part of Russian hockey team

In the early 90s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, a group of investors including two owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux and Michael J. Fox took ownership of 50 percent of the then struggling Russian national hockey team.

"You can't really call it owning because it's the Russian government, but we basically stepped in and took over the financial interests of the central Red Army hockey team in Moscow, in Russia," Fox said on CNN's "Larry King Live" during a clip shown in director Gabe Polsky's new documentary, "Red Penguins".

"Red Penguins" is a more-than-worthy follow up to Polsky's well-received "Red Army" released in 2014.

His latest doc zeroes in on what happens when Pittsburgh Penguins owners Howard Baldwin and Tom Ruta, along with their other investors, try to save the once proud hockey club that had a previous relationship with the Soviet armed forces and name it the Russian Penguins.

"At the beginning, we didn't understand the risk. We didn't understand what the country was like and what have you," Ruta says early in the film. As the movie plays out, that statement becomes more and more true.

Marketing wiz Steven Warshaw, hired by Baldwin and Ruta and sent to Moscow, achieves success in coming up with promotions such as free beer nights to fill the Russian Penguins' arena. The success from the Americans' involvement in the team also attracted Disney's interest according to Warshaw.

Things go south when the Russian mafia gets involved. Not even Warshaw's comic relief in the film softens the destruction and violence done by the criminal organization as the partnership falls apart.

"Red Penguins" is available Tuesday on iTunes, Amazon, On Demand and all other video platforms.

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