Blackhawks

Blackhawks beat Sharks in one of season's best outings

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Blackhawks beat Sharks in one of season's best outings

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Andrew Desjardins’ early season with the Blackhawks has been a bit frustrating.

He was recently put back into the lineup after being scratched for three consecutive games and, entering Wednesday’s game against his former tam, was still looking for his first point of the season.

His second trip back to San Jose proved to be a happy one.

Desjardins scored his first goal of the season and Patrick Kane extended his career-high point streak to 17 games as the Blackhawks beat the Sharks, 5-2, on Wednesday night.

Duncan Keith scored his third goal of the season and the 78th of his career, moving him past Pierre Pilote to fourth all-time among Blackhawks defensemen. Jonathan Toews added his eighth of the season. Andrew Shaw (empty net) and Brent Seabrook also scored. Corey Crawford stopped 27 of 29 shots in the victory.

Kane’s point streak is now a career-high 17 games. He’s one away from tying the mark set by a U.S.-born player (18 games held by Eddie Olczyk and Phil Kessel) and four away from tying the franchise mark, set by Bobby Hull (21 games in December 1971 and January 1972).

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Former Blackhawk Ben Smith still feeling effects from recent concussion]

Desjardins had been frustrated with the chances he has had this season, none of which resulted in goals or points. So his happiness — and perhaps his relief — was noticeable when he did score on Wednesday.

“I think you could tell in my reaction,” Desjardins said with a smile. “I’m not much for cellies. I just kind of yelled as loud as I could, I think. It felt good. It was a long time coming in a way, too, with the chances that I’ve had. It felt awesome.”

The Blackhawks were looking to build off their game in Vancouver, one in which they thought they did a lot right but lost. Wednesday’s game in San Jose, against a Sharks team that had won all six games on their recent road trip, was one of the Blackhawks’ best outings of the season.

“We just talked about that, maybe on the road it was our best complete game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a good game in Vancouver with nothing to show for it. Today we got rewarded. Good back-to-back efforts as far as playing the right way, doing a lot of good things.”

The Blackhawks got the desired start, with Seabrook and Toews goals putting them up 2-1 after one. Kane’s primary assist on Seabrook’s goal extended his point streak about nine minutes into the game. Kane was a lot happier with his game, as well as that of his line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov, Wednesday night.

“It seemed like we didn’t pay too many shifts in our end as a line, and we had more control of the puck, too,” said Kane, who added he’s not thinking about the point streak as much as he is playing the right way. “You’re always looking to build off performances, I thought it was a step in the right direction.”

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Keith’s goal, which looked like a harmless shot from along the boards, put the Blackhawks up 3-1. Patrick Marleau made it interesting with his eighth goal of the season, which cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-2 with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation. But just 67 seconds later, Desjardins’ goal re-established the Blackhawks’ two-goal lead.

Desjardins wanted to capitalize on the chances he’s gotten. The Blackhawks wanted to build off the pre-Las Vegas portion of their Circus Trip. They all got what they were looking for on Wednesday.

“Our start was awesome,” Desjardins said. “I thought our puck-possession was good. Obviously they had a few flurries in the game, but I think that’s part of it, right? (You’re) not just gonna have the tide going your way the whole game. Yeah, I thought we played a pretty good all-around game, for sure.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis is joined by Scott Powers of The Athletic to discuss Stan Bowman's comments following the Marian Hossa trade and debate whether they're finished making moves this summer.

They also provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks' top prospects and which players have caught their attention as development camp winds down.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Jonathan Toews watched a lot of playoff hockey this spring. 

"Quite a bit," he admitted Wednesday before making his Chicago Pro Hockey League debut at MB Ice Arena. "More than usual."

That's because the Blackhawks missed out on the postseason for the first time since his rookie year in 2007-08. It's obviously not a position he'd like himself or his team to be in, especially after experiencing three Stanley Cups in a six-year span.

But you have to find a way to take the positives out of it at this point and let it fuel you for the upcoming campaign.

"You always want to be there playing," Toews said. "But when you can maybe step away from the game a little bit and just kind of breathe and — at the same time, look back and realize you’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of success. Obviously there’s no satisfaction there, but you understand it’s not the worst thing to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what you’ve been able to experience, because I think failing to get to the playoffs makes you realize how difficult it really is and maybe it’s something you took for granted.

"But watching more hockey this spring, I think, is something that was really motivating and kind of inspiring and exciting to want to get back to that level again. You dream of playing in the NHL, but at the end of the day, you want to play playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about."

There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Blackhawks last season and contributed to why they watched the playoffs from home, whether it's the Corey Crawford injury, the down season from Brandon Saad, or the inexperience on the blue line.

For Toews, who turned 30 in April, it's about regaining that old form that made him one of the top players in the NHL and hoping it can filter down the rest of the Blackhawks lineup.

"For me, it’s part of just recapturing that energy, that motivation, excitement and that mindset of a young player who takes nothing for granted, that you had in your younger days," he said. "But also carrying the experience with you and understanding the impact of what you say, what you do, how you carry yourself can impact your teammates, especially the young guys. For me, it comes down to knowing what to say at the right time. But letting my play be the thing that helps me lead by example. No better time than now to use that experience and that excitement trying to rebound off the season we had last year."

If there's any reason to have belief that the Blackhawks can turn it around quickly, look no further than the two teams that collided in the Stanley Cup Final: Vegas and Washington. 

The Golden Knights had the longest odds to win it all at the beginning of the season while the Capitals' championship window was perceived to be closed after they failed to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 in the second round yet again with a loaded roster. But it's not about what's on paper.

"Watching that last series, you just knew it came down to who had the most, the deepest belief in themselves," Toews said. "I even had a hard time predicting who was going to win every series. It could’ve gone either way in a lot of situations. It’s not only motivating, seeing how fast that play was and to have missed out on playoff hockey this year and to have the drive to get back there, but knowing if you do sneak into the playoffs it doesn’t matter. You can go a long way.

"For us, thinking, 'OK, we're gonna back and win a Stanley Cup this year,' it sounds like a long shot. But as always, our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs and being ready to hit our stride when we get there."