Blackhawks

Blackhawks move back into first with win over Canadiens

Blackhawks move back into first with win over Canadiens

MONTREAL – Patrick Kane's been on a productive roll lately. Corey Crawford always has a strong night in his hometown. That made for a successful combination on Tuesday night. 

Kane had a goal and two assists to share the NHL points lead with Connor McDavid (76) and Crawford stopped 40 of 42 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 on Tuesday night. With the Minnesota Wild's 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, the Blackhawks move back into first in the Western Conference. The Wild still have a game in hand.

But it came with a loss – at least for the rest of this game. Artem Anisimov suffered a left-leg injury when Canadiens forward Alexander Radulov fell into Anisimov's legs at the end of the first period. Despite Anisimov having to be helped off the ice by trainers, coach Joel Quenneville said afterward that Anisimov was, "day-to-day… not serious, so we'll see how he does over the next two days."

Nick Schmaltz, who came in for Anisimov on March 1 when Anisimov suffered a lower-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins, did it again on Tuesday night and the second line kept on going. Schmaltz's slick pass set up Artemi Panarin's 23rd of the season, which also proved to be the game-winning goal.

"I knew [Panarin] was over there somewhere, got the puck from Kaner and knew he was driving, so I just did a no-look. Lucky it was right on his tape and he doesn't miss from there very often," Schmaltz said of Panarin. "Good play by Kaner to give it to me and glad he finished it off."

Another somewhat scary moment came in the second period when Shea Weber's scorching shot hit Crawford in the mask, knocking the Blackhawks goaltender flat on his back. Crawford took a moment to get back to his feet and talked with a Blackhawks trainer on the ice, but did not leave the game.

Quenneville said head athletic trainer Mike Gapski checked Crawford on the ice and all was well. Crawford said he didn't think about leaving the game.

"No, it's just I didn't have time to get out of the way. Hard shot, slow pass and I tried to just take the angle away," Crawford said. "Too bad he smoked me there."

The Canadiens made it interesting late, with Paul Byron and Weber getting pucks past Crawford to cut the Blackhawks' lead to 3-2. But Jonathan Toews' empty-net goal with 1:22 remaining in regulation sealed it.

Crawford seemingly came away from a scary shot alright, Anisimov's injury may not be as bad as originally feared and the Blackhawks came away with another big victory on the road. They're finding success at a critical time of the season, and could come away with the division.

"We'd like to move ahead," Quenneville said. "We keep trying to push ahead or stay head. Every game's competitive but starting this road trip we did a lot of good things. Let's keep it going."

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.