Blackhawks

Blackhawks bury Coyotes with second straight six-goal game

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Blackhawks bury Coyotes with second straight six-goal game

Jonathan Toews talked earlier Tuesday about times this season when he was frustrated, when the points just weren’t coming.

Well, they’re coming now.

Toews recorded three points, including his 250th career goal, as the Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes, 6-2, on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks remain in third place in the Central Division with 101 points. Dallas and St. Louis — each with 105 points — were idle Tuesday and remained first and second, respectively.

It was another point-heavy night for some of the Blackhawks. Artemi Panarin recorded another two assists, giving him 10 points in his last three games. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist.

With a good finish came bad news. Artem Anisimov left midway through the second period and did not return after Antoine Vermette hit him along the boards. Anisimov was down for a few moments before heading to the locker room. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll know more on Wednesday about how Anisimov is doing. The Blackhawks’ injury list is growing — Marian Hossa is out with a lower-body injury, while Andrew Shaw and Corey Crawford are sidelined by upper-body injuries.

As far as this game, however, the Blackhawks liked a lot of what they did, especially the latest scoring eruption. They still gave up two goals late, but this was nothing like Sunday’s finish against the Boston Bruins, in which they were off for about the final 20 minutes.

“The one line's been dynamic in the three games as far as generating off the rush or on the power play or in zone. They’ve really been dangerous. They have the finish, and that line leads our offense and kicked in some other goals as well,” Quenneville said of the second line. “I like the way we played for the most part tonight. We did some things in the last three games when you look at the offense, five (goals), six and six. We know we can score; the ongoing challenge is to check.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Corey Crawford hoping to return soon]

For Toews, it’s another milestone. The team’s celebrated a few of them lately, from Kane hitting 100 points to Quenneville recording his 800th coaching victory. But Toews took goal No. 250 in stride.

“Halfway to Hoss, I guess; lot of work to do there. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I guess,” Toews said to laughs. “I guess that’s cool. I don’t think you’re ever thinking of those things. At the end of the day other people remind you once in a while, but it’s great to see a couple of our guys, and even Q, reach these milestones the last couple of games. Going forward, we can focus on what matters.”

What matters is that the Blackhawks are playing good hockey heading into the postseason, and they’ve been trending in the right direction. Special teams were big for them, as they scored three power-play goals and killed off six Coyotes advantages, including two 5-on-3s (12 seconds and 50 seconds).

“Yeah, it’s obviously really nice,” said Trevor van Riemsdyk of the special teams. “We want to be clicking on all cylinders this time of year. Obviously to get some contributions of the power play there, and to kill off some penalties is nice.”

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Richard Panik, who got a top-line opportunity in Hossa’s absence, got the Blackhawks’ offense going with his sixth of the season 5:16 into the game. Toews’ short-handed goal, which came not long after the Coyotes’ brief 5-on-3 power play ended, put the Blackhawks up 2-0. Kane scored his 44th goal of the season, a power-play goal, for a 3-0 lead. The Blackhawks added two more power-play goals on that Vermette five-minute boarding (both from Andrew Ladd) to pretty much put this one out of reach.

The Blackhawks like the direction in which they’re going. Yes, they have their toughest test coming Thursday when they host the St. Louis Blues. But they’re getting goals, they’re getting the most out of guys with several players sidelined, and their captain is getting in a groove at the right time.

“You can work as hard as you want. And I think when you score, it just gives you energy, and it's obviously a mental thing but that was the way it was again tonight,” Toews said. “So it's nice to get that boost. I want to keep growing my game and just try and use the things I need to learn from this season, and use them in the playoffs. So I'm feeling good about that.”

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

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AP

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.