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Blackhawks get back on track with shutout win over Jets

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Blackhawks get back on track with shutout win over Jets

By Darrin Bauming

CSNChicago.com contributor

WINNIPEG — Two lightning-quick spurts of offense was more than enough to overpower the Jets on Friday night, as the Blackhawks cruised to a 4-0 win in Winnipeg to snap a four-game losing streak.

Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa scored just 26 seconds apart late in the second, before Andrew Ladd and Tomas Fleischmann added insult to injury in a span of 1:45 in the early stages of the third. Scott Darling turned away all 28 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season.

"It's all we all wanted tonight was a win. That's what we came to do and that's what we needed," said Darling, following his first consecutive game start of the season. "I felt good last game — didn't get the result I wanted, but it was good momentum moving forward. I felt good tonight."

The eventual game-winner came in the second as Kane dashed down the right wing through the neutral zone, out-skating former Blackhawk Marko Dano, before backhanding a roof job past Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec.

On the ensuing shift, Marian Hossa found his 12th of the season on his stick — a rebound off an Artem Anisimov shot that was blocked by Dustin Byfuglien to make it 2-0 at 17:22 of the second.

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"We got a little break there, and a great play by (Kane)," said head coach Joel Quenneville of the game's opening goal. "A great finish. And then (Anisimov) makes a real nice play, turning it and patient, and a fortunate rebound.

"There was really nothing going on. Zero-zero, it looked like we were going in after two (periods), and then to score two at the end was good for us," Kane said. "It gives us some confidence especially playing with a lead. We hung in there. We didn't really make too many mistakes in the first part of the game and we capitalized on our chances."

Former Jets captain Ladd — acquired by the Blackhawks on Feb. 25 — tallied his 20th of the season to make it 3-0 early in the third. The 2010 Stanley Cup champion has now hit the 20-goal plateau five times in his 11-year career. Since re-joining the Blackhawks Ladd has three goals and two assists in the nine games.

"For him to come out and score a goal in a big win for our team I'm sure is a good feeling for him too," Kane said. "It was a good welcome home for him."

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Kane's two-point night puts the NHL scoring leader at 92 points — 12 ahead of the next in line, Dallas' Jamie Benn, who climbed to 80 with a three-point effort on Thursday. Kane's 39th goal of the season proved to be the eventual game-winner — good for second in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin's 42.

Fleischmann's 13th of the season is his third in nine games since joining the Blackhawks.

Darling's victory is his seventh on the year (7-6-2) and his first win since Feb. 15 in Toronto. With No. 1 netminder Corey Crawford still listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered earlier this week, 35-year-old Michael Leighton was recalled from AHL Rockford on Thursday to serve as Darling's backup.

Teuvo Teravainen, who skipped Friday's morning skate was listed as questionable by coach Joel Quenneville due to a lingering illness. But the 21-year-old took pre-game warmups and ended up playing 11:04 centering a line with Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise.

The Hawks — edging to within a single point of St. Louis' 91 points for second place in the Central Division — now return home for two more divisional matchups as they host Minnesota on Sunday and Dallas on Tuesday.

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

Kirby Dach made his pro debut on Saturday, but it wasn't with the Blackhawks.

The No. 3 overall pick from this past June was activated from his injured/non-roster designation and assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League for conditioning purposes and jumped right into the lineup. He didn't appear in any NHL preseason games because he was under the league's concussion protocol during training camp.

In his season debut, Dach recorded two shots on goal and had a minus-1 rating in a 4-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. He centered the fourth line with Brandon Hagel and Nick Moutrey.

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton discussed the decision to send Dach to Rockford after Saturday's game against the Winnipeg Jets, and it sounds like the organization remains committed to giving him a look at the NHL level whenever his conditioning stint is over.

"He hasn't played in a long time," Colliton said. "Missed training camp, missed the exhibition season. We think he can help us so we're trying to set him up, give him the best opportunity so when he does get the chance here he'll be as ready as he can be. It's a good league down there and a chance for him to get his feet wet against men. And I think he's been getting better and better in his practice time here with us. So I'm excited. Hopefully, he can gain confidence down there and then be ready to help us."

Because he's not eligible to play in the AHL full-time this season due to Canadian Hockey League rules, Dach's conditioning stint in Rockford can last up to 14 days, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, before the Blackhawks are forced to either recall him or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League.

Rockford has four more games over that span, with its next one on Monday against the Laval Rocket at BMO Harris Bank Center.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Saturday:

1. Squandering a two-goal lead

For the second straight home game, the Blackhawks jumped out in front and even built an early cushion by scoring the first two goals in the opening frame. But they allowed the Jets to score three unanswered, including the overtime winner by Mark Scheifele, to remain winless on the season (0-2-1).

"We did a good job in the first and they took it to us in the second," said Brandon Saad, who scored a shorthanded goal. "Lehnny made some big saves and the third was kind of even. But we definitely had chances to close it out and we didn’t. At least we got a point and we have to move on from it."

2. Another lackluster second period

If there's one thing you can point to that's been a trend in all three games so far, it's that the Blackhawks have been lackluster in the second period. And it's difficult to pinpoint why.

In the middle frame, the Blackhawks have 10 scoring chances for and 35 against at 5-on-5, two high-danger chances for and 10 against at 5-on-5 and a minus-19 shot differential, according to Natural Stat Trick. That's an area of the game they're trying to clean up and has been the downfall to their attempts of putting together a full 60-minute effort.

"Obviously it's been three in a row where we haven't been very good in the second period and to me that's where you show how good you are," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The best teams, they dominate the second period, so it's a point of emphasis for us. We'd like to control the tempo of the game and control the territory, out-chance the other team. That's where you show how good you are, so we're not close to where we want to be in that area."

3. Robin Lehner's debut

After going two weeks without game action, the Blackhawks gave the nod to Lehner, who went into Saturday with a 4-0-0 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in five career games against the Jets. He took the loss, but certainly did his part to deserve a win.

In regulation, Lehner stopped 30 of 32 shots for a save percentage of .938. The first goal was on the power play, the second came at 5-on-5 when Andrew Copp found himself all alone in front and the third was in overtime during 3-on-3 action. His 5-on-5 save percentage was .962, which will definitely work.

"I felt good," Lehner said. "I felt like I saw the puck well. I thought rebound control was good. Again, the first one is unfortunate, it squeaks through. But I was where I wanted to be in position and somehow it goes in. Gotta try to clean that up. And the third goal, it just dove on me. He missed his shot. It’s unfortunate. But I thought I made some good saves and felt comfortable. We got a point, which is something, but should’ve got a win today."

4. Penalty kill shows improvement

The Blackhawks gave up a power-play goal for the third consecutive contest, but this was close to being a perfect night for the penalty kill. They went 3-for-4 and gave up only four shots on goal in the 7:38 of shorthanded time.

On the first Jets power play of the night, Saad scored a shorthanded goal for his first of the season and the Blackhawks later generated two more scoring chances before the two minutes expired.

The power-play goal against should've been stopped by Lehner but he did everything right and had the shortside sealed, the puck just found a mini hole. The Blackhawks responded with a big kill and had one late in the third period also. No complaints.

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