Blues overcome adversity on and off the ice in win over Blackhawks


Blues overcome adversity on and off the ice in win over Blackhawks

The Blues hadn't allowed more than four goals in a game through the first 11 contests of the season. On Wednesday night against the Blackhawks, they gave up five in the first period.

On top of that — already without Patrik Berglund, Jaden Schwartz, Kevin Shattenkirk and Paul Stastny — the Blues lost Steve Ott in the second period with an upper-body injury while starting goaltender Brian Elliott was pulled twice, the second time due to an injury after he collided with Jonathan Toews during a breakaway opportunity.

Perhaps in previous years, a three-goal deficit in the defending Stanley Cup champions' building would've demoralized a team looking to break through in May.

But not this time.

[MORE: Blackhawks blow three-goal lead, lose to Blues in OT]

"We just kept elevating our game. None of that affected us," Blues captain David Backes said of overcoming injuries and a three-goal deficit in a 6-5 overtime win over the Blackhawks. "That's the resiliency and the character that we're building here. It's one of the things we've identified that has led to lack of success in the playoffs. Now we're showing those things 10, 12, 15 games in, which is a great sign.

"We gotta keep building on that and it just becomes perpetual."

"Resiliency. Not giving up," Jake Allen, who registered 27 saves in relief, echoed. "Chicago's one of our main rivals. They've sort of had our number the last few years and to be able to come back like that and prove a point was pretty special."

The Blues also faced resiliency off the ice. The team arrived in Chicago at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning after heavy fog forced their flight to land in Milwaukee, where they took a bus the rest of the way.

It was also the second of a back-to-back, after getting shut out by the Los Angeles Kings at home on Tuesday night.

[RELATED: Five Things: Overtime doesn’t go the Blackhawks’ way]

But they weren't going to use that — or any circumstance for that matter — as an excuse.

"There are a ton of excuses out there we could've used and just kind of said, 'It's not our night,' but that wasn't us and that shows a lot of character in this room," Backes said. "We could use any excuse we wanted, but it's the NHL. You've got to be ready for the drop of the puck or you're going to be in a world of hurt."

The Blues were somewhat ready, but it wasn't until the second period when it showed they wouldn't go down without a fight.

After Alex Steen pulled the game within two goals early in the second period, Jay Bouwmeester and Backes each found the back of the net in the final three minutes of the period that left a United Center crowd of 21,676 silent.

"With the day or night or whatever you want to call it we had, to come back and play with the energy we did in the second period, I thought the second period was one of the best periods we've played all year," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We really did the things we wanted to do. Guys deserve a lot of credit. We hit the wall a little bit in the third from what we'd gone through.

"You could see guys were trying and they were a little bit tired, but to play the way we did in the second period, we had every reason to want to fight another day. We wanted to dig in and the guys did that."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

They dug in to the end, when Vladimir Tarasenko — on a long shift — potted the game-winner with 1 minute, 6 seconds left in overtime that helped improve the Blues' record to 9-3-1 on the season.

They're now 3-0-1 in games following a loss this year, and displayed the kind of resiliency any Stanley Cup contending team needs.

"It means a lot knowing that we've got this resolve that we can come back (from three goals down)," Hitchcock said. "It's a good sign."


Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks


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:


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.”


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 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.


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'


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.