Blackhawks rally past Blues in Game 2 to even series

Blackhawks rally past Blues in Game 2 to even series

ST. LOUIS – Andrew Shaw had just one thought running through his mind as the St. Louis Blues challenged his goal, claiming goaltender interference.

“Just count. Just count, please,” he said.

It did, and thanks to that and a late empty-net goal, the Blackhawks are going back to Chicago tied 1-1 in their first-round series.

Shaw’s power-play goal counted and Artemi Panarin’s empty-net goal proved to be the winner as the Blackhawks beat the Blues 3-2 on Friday night. The two square off again on Sunday afternoon in Chicago.

Duncan Keith, back after serving his six-game suspension, had a goal and an assist. Patrick Kane had two assists and Corey Crawford stopped 29 of 31 shots in the victory. Vladimir Tarasenko and Kevin Shattenkirk scored for the Blues.

On a night when coach’s challenges came into play twice, the Blackhawks were the beneficiaries both times. The first nullified a Blues goal. Tarasenko looked to give the Blues a 2-1 lead with less than eight minutes remaining in regulation. But the Blackhawks challenged for offside and, after a lengthy review, the officials ruled it no goal.

“Someone on the bench said it’s offside and we got it late, and I was screaming like a crazy man, just got [the review] in time,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think the longer [the review] went, we felt better about it.”

About four minutes later the Blues countered with their own coach’s challenge, saying Shaw interfered with goaltender Brian Elliott on his power-play goal. This review wasn’t nearly as long and went against the Blues, giving the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:19 remaining in regulation.

It was quite the turn of events. The Blues could live with the offside ruling – “I mean the offside is offside. It’s cut and dry,” Ryan Reaves said. But the Blues were frustrated that Shaw’s goal counted.

“We’re going to have to fight,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “When you play the defending Cup champions you’re going to have to fight through a lot of stuff. Calls aren’t going to go your way. It’s always going to seem one-sided… Big deal. Fight through it.”

The Blackhawks had to fight through their goal-less drought through (nearly) the first 40 minutes of this one, too. Then it was Keith, fresh off his suspension and back playing a big role, scoring with just 3.2 seconds remaining in the second period. His goal ended the Blackhawks’ postseason scoreless drought at 109 minutes.

“Well he picked up where we left off last year in the playoffs,” Jonathan Toews said. “We know what he brings. We put him out there in situations and eventually something’s going to happen. He brought that tonight.”

Then came the two coach’s challenges in the third period, including the one that kept Shaw’s goal in place.

“I didn’t know if they were going to look at goalie interference or not but I knew I was crosschecked from behind,” Shaw said. “I was confident it was a goal but obviously there was some doubt there as well.”

The Blackhawks wanted to leave St. Louis with a split. They were an overtime goal away from taking two but they’ll take 1-1 going home. They’ll take both coach’s challenge rulings, too.

“Well we felt we had to win one and we know we were compromised coming in here Game 1 without Duncs. Getting it back after a real tough loss, it was a great response,” Quenneville said. “Take one game at a time. We know it’s going to get tougher as we go along but we like the progression with today’s win.”

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Anton Forsberg cleared waivers on Tuesday morning and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

That's good news for the Blackhawks organizational depth chart, with Forsberg as the No. 3 in goal. But it also complicates things in Rockford, where Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have been sharing the duties.

Delia is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .910 save percentage while Lankinen is 0-1-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .825 save percentage. Perhaps the most likely scenario is Lankinen gets sent to the ECHL with the Indy Fuel while Delia and Forsberg split the load in Rockford.

It's certainly a good problem to have, but it's still unclear how that dynamic will play out.

"We haven’t talked about that," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect [Forsberg] to play."

Luke Johnson recalled

With a spot opening up on the 23-man roster, Johnson is being brought back up after he was squeezed out by Corey Crawford's return. He had a goal and an assist in two games with Rockford.

Brandon Saad returns to top-six role

After turning in arguably his best performance of the season on Sunday, Saad is back playing on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. He had seven shot attempts (three on goal) against Tampa Bay and led the team in 5-on-5 possession numbers.

"[Saad] is coming off a game where we liked what we saw," Quenneville said. "Playing with Kaner can help him get going."

Nick Schmaltz to play right side for first time in NHL career

Eight games into the season and Schmaltz has spent time at both center and left wing. Now he'll get a look on the right side with Alexandre Fortin on the left and David Kampf centering the third line.

Part of the reason for Schmaltz’s move to the right side was because Quenneville said they like Fortin on the left. It's not unfamiliar territory for Schmaltz, but could take some time getting used to.

"I played a little while back, not sure when," Schmaltz said "Just a little bit different. Catching pucks on your forehand now instead of your backhand. It's not a huge adjustment, just play with speed and compete hard and hopefully the skill on our line will take over."

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers


Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the ECHL to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.