Blackhawks

Blackhawks rally for third straight win

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Blackhawks rally for third straight win

All the excuses were in place for the Blackhawks.

Back from a nine-game road trip. Second game in 24 hours. Third game in four days. And, oh, yeah, they were playing the league's best defensive team that was coming off its 12th shutout the day before.

But the Hawks rallied from a 1-0 deficit after two periods to score three in the third for their third straight win, 3-1 over St. Louis.

Theyre a great team, a patient team, said Bryan Bickell, who earned an assist on Dave Bollands game-winning goal. Theyve been having an outstanding year, and for the stuff weve been through, its important to move on and get this ball rolling again.

They dont give up much. Ya gotta stay with it. Against them, its not a high-quality-chance game, explained Head Coach Joel Quenneville. Youve gotta go through high traffic, you have to score ugly goals and we got a few breaks in that area today. But the guys hung with it. I know sometimes the guys looked a little tired on shifts, but we shortened them in the third, and we got a little more energy off of it.

Duncan Keiths equalizer just under five minutes into the third was just his second goal in three months, but he was on his way to a plus-3 after being a plus-4 in Columbus 24 hours earlier.

It was only one goal (deficit). We knew we were right there. I think we learned a lot there in that losing streak. I think weve brought some of those lessons learned in tonights game. Its only one game, but weve got to keep playing the right way, and use those things weve been learning.

They're now 2-0 this season against Blues All-Star goalie Brian Elliott, who has just four other losses in 29 games this season. It also was a reward for Corey Crawford, who's now quieting the "let's trade for a goaltender" talk as the man in net for this three-game win streak's that followed the nine-game nightmare. When the Hawks were being dominated, and outshot 15-4 in the opening period, the only shot that got past him was on a goalmouth pileup in which Jamie Langenbrunner kicked the puck to Andy McDonald, whose stick provided enough push to get it over the goal line. Crawford stopped the other 29 shots he faced, including a breakaway by Chris Stewart midway through the second to keep it 1-0. There were a couple of other big ones along the way, too.

Ive been able to be in more control, not sliding around as much, Crawford explained after his 21st victory of the season earned him No. 1 Star of the Game honors. Ive been pretty focused. As a team were doing the little things right, not forcing anything. And thats the perfect game to show it, down most of the game and not trying to do too much to try and get one. We were just putting the puck in the right places and waiting for our chance.

I was always comfortable with our goalies, Quenneville said. It was only a matter of time where we needed a goalie win and I thought today was. Hes proven to us that hes capable of doing it.

He was great tonight, said Patrick Kane. I think hes changed up his game a little bit. Hes working really hard in practice, and just talking to him, it sounds like hes really excited about where hes at. Its good to have confidence in him. Wed seen it all last year with how good he was in that stretch. E know what a great goaltender he can be.

Dave Bolland's winning goal was actually a centering pass that went off of Blues captain David Backes, who was parked in front of the net. Those are the kind of goals that had been going against the Blackhawks recently. Marian Hossa then wristed in an empty-netter from his own blue line in the final minute to cap off Hossa Bobblehead Day.
Wicked Wristers

- The Hawks power play is now 0-for-its-last-29 with Sunday's 0-for-3. Bolland scored the last one in the third period of the last home game, January 24th against Nashville.

- Joel Quenneville said before the game defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson skated once again and could be ready for Tuesday's game against Detroit. He's missed the last five with an upper body injury. Steve Montador's also missed the last five with an upper body, but the Head Coach says there's been no progress toward his return.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”