Blackhawks

Blackhawks set franchise record with 12th straight win

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Blackhawks set franchise record with 12th straight win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The mood in the Blackhawks’ locker room didn’t seem any more euphoric than it’s been in any of their previous victories.

Still, there’s no doubt this team realizes it’s doing something pretty special right now – like franchise-record special.

Corey Crawford stopped 38 of 39 shots and the Blackhawks won their 12th consecutive victory when they beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Tuesday night. It was a record night for some individuals as well as the team. Crawford won his career-best ninth consecutive start and Patrick Kane scored his 30th goal, tying a career high – in game No. 49 – he set during the 2009-10 season.

The Blackhawks’ winning streak is a franchise best, eclipsing their previous mark of 11 first set during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. It’s been a heck of a ride, one that has the Blackhawks sitting atop the Central Division with 68 points.

“It’s a great run,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve been starting quick and today we had to weather a good start by them. I thought we were patient with our team game, scoring first and had a couple nice plays on our goals. We defend well in the third, had the lead a lot in this stretch here, which really helped our team game.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Richard Panik scored his second goal in as many games. Artemi Panarin had two assists. Andrew Desjardins added an empty-net goal.

Crawford was stellar once again on Tuesday. The Blackhawks had a 3-1 lead in the third but the Predators pushed and fired 16 shots, all of which Crawford stopped.

“Yeah he’s been amazing. It seems like he has a whole new focus in the net,” Kane said of Crawford this season. “Some nights he looks unbeatable; it’s pretty fun to watch. He’s very underrated as goalies go but we feel we have the best-kept secret with him.”

Not so secret is what the Blackhawks’ second line has done all season and continued to do on Tuesday. Artem Anisimov gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with 21.2 seconds remaining in the first period. And just one minute after the Predators’ Ryan Ellis cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1 in the second, Kane took a Panarin pass for a backhand breakaway and a 3-1 edge.

“I think maybe he saw me before he got the puck there, I was just taking off after the defenseman shot it and he put it right on my stick,” Kane said. “I had to make the move on the breakaway and it was a nice pass by him.”

The second line has been clicking since the start of this season. The Blackhawks as a whole have been doing so since the end of December. It’s led to some special marks, for individual players and the team.

“You can see the chemistry through all the lines, all the [defensive] pairings. We’re just playing the game right, playing with speed and skill and not making too many mistakes, not taking too many penalties,” Crawford said. “I just think everything about our game is working right now.”

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.