Blackhawks

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews nets game-winning OT goal vs. Sharks

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Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews nets game-winning OT goal vs. Sharks

The Blackhawks preach it constantly. Every team does, really: in this league, you need to get those gritty, up-close-and-personal goals. Drive to the net, get pucks and get opportunities.

And instead of talking about that mantra on Sunday night, the Blackhawks practiced it.

Patrick Kane scored his 21st goal of the season and Jonathan Toews recorded the overtime winner as the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 at the United Center. The Blackhawks have now won seven of their last nine and remain in third place in the Central Division entering Tuesday night’s game against the first-place Dallas Stars.

One player who won’t be headed to Dallas is Marian Hossa. The right wing missed Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury and coach Joel Quenneville said Hossa will hopefully be back for the Blackhawks’ Dec. 27 game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Quenneville said that Hossa’s injury “isn’t serious at all.” Given the upcoming break, it’s just more a good chance to let Hossa rest.

Corey Crawford, who Quenneville picked to start both games this weekend, stopped 33 of 36 for the victory.

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Artem Anisimov scored his 12th of the season, which snapped an eight-game point-less streak for the center. Andrew Shaw added his sixth of the season. What do those two goals, as well as Kane’s and Toews’ have in common? They all came from about five feet within the Sharks’ net.

“There are some chances at both ends,” Quenneville said. “They go to the net hard and traffic at our net, but we need to be more assertive when we go to the net, knowing that’s where the rewards are.”

And for Toews, overtime continues to be aboon. Sunday marked Toews’ third overtime winner of the season.

“You have to be smart, pick your spots and take advantage of the opportunities you get,” Toews said. “Tonight was one of those scenarios where we were able to catch them tired and maybe changing and I think we did a pretty good job of managing that and making sure we have fresh guys on the ice maintaining puck possession even though we might not be attacking with it.”

Crawford did the rest, making some of his biggest stops in the third period when the Sharks outshot the Blackhawks 11-5. Crawford said starting back-to-backs was fine with him – “It’s almost like you don’t lose it at all, playing again that quick,” he said.

“Obviously it was a tough way to start on the first shot, I got deked out of my jock,” Crawford said of Joonas Donskoi’s early goal. “But I stuck with it. I was seeing pucks pretty well. That team has been pretty streaky this year but when they’re playing hard, they’re a tough team to beat. That was a really good hockey game tonight.”

The Blackhawks have been playing pretty good hockey lately. They’re getting great goaltending from Crawford. They’re getting more scoring from everyone. And on Sunday they got the kinds of goals they’ll need the rest of the way.

“I mean, it shows when you get in those dirty areas you find those goals,” Shaw said. “They’re tough to come by. You have to work hard and get dirty once in a while.”

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.