Blackhawks

Corey Crawford stellar again as Blackhawks smother Avalanche

Corey Crawford stellar again as Blackhawks smother Avalanche

After Corey Crawford allowed just one goal against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, he said he’s felt better every game.

He apparently felt fantastic on Thursday night.

Crawford recorded his second shutout in his past three games, stopping all 38 shots he saw, and Marian Hossa scored twice in the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks won their fourth consecutive game and have points in their last six (5-0-1). Jonathan Toews scored his second goal of the season, which proved to be the game winner.

Artem Anisimov had the secondary assist on Hossa’s goal, extending his career-best, nine-game point streak. Duncan Keith had two assists. Artemi Panarin scored his fifth of the season with 7:20 remaining in regulation.

It was another stellar night for Crawford, who has now stopped 103 of the 104 shots he’s seen in his past three games. He was once again tested early and often, but held up under the pressure as the Blackhawks were outshot 11-1 in the first 12 minutes, 47 seconds of the game.

“He’s been outstanding,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Again tonight, the first period comparable to the last few first periods we’ve seen, where he’s kept us in the game and we’ve had opportunistic scoring and put ourselves in a good spot. but single-handedly there, he made some big, big saves.”

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It has become a trend for the Blackhawks: struggle and get outshot badly early, then come back with a flourish. Tonight it was two goals in 38 seconds, first by Toews (a rebound off Keith’s shot) and Hossa’s first of the night. And just like that, the Blackhawks were in control.

Crawford again came up big late in the second period, when the Avalanche again pushed the pace and brought a flurry of shots.

“I was just trying to track the puck,” Crawford said. “Our [defensemen] are doing a good job of being on the side of the net, clearing stuff and taking away options on the side there. I just have to try to find the puck from the blue line and our guys are doing a great job with that on the rebounds.”

Hossa scored his second of the night, splitting two Avalanche defensemen off a great pass from Keith, for a 3-0 lead 55 seconds into the third period. Hossa, who certainly benefited from a rare long offseason, has five goals through his first 10 games.

“You know, sometimes when the puck goes in for you early you’re more relaxed. You don’t force things. Right now I think that’s what’s happening,” Hossa said. “I’m playing with two great players (Anisimov and Panarin). Find the open area and those guys can find you. Things are clicking.”

The Blackhawks are sort of clicking, too. Those starts are still an issue; the Blackhawks are not going to be able to win every game they’re slow out of the game. But right now they’re getting what they need from their top six forwards, and getting a ton from their goaltender.

Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown

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AP

Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown

In honor of the late executive Jim Johannson, who died unexpectedly in his sleep in January at the age of 53, USA Hockey is hosting a Stars and Stripes Showdown at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan on Sunday, Aug. 26 and three Blackhawks will be participating in it: Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Connor Murphy.

Kane served as USA's captain at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark this past May and set a new American record with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 10 tournament contests, which earned him MVP honors. DeBrincat had one goal and eight assists while Murphy led USA with a plus-7 rating.

Other star-studded headliners participating: Connor Hellebuyck, Seth Jones, Dylan Larkin, Auston Matthews, Charlie McAvoy, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, James van Riemsdyk and Zach Werenski. It's a great group getting together to celebrate the life of Johannson, who was an instrumental part of USA Hockey's program for the last 18 years.

Tickets are being sold for $10 and $15, which you can purchase here. Doors open at 1 p.m. ET with the game starting at 2 p.m.

A few events that will occur throughout the game: a ceremonial puck drop, a live game-worn jersey auction, an online auction featuring game-worn jerseys and autographed NHL memorabilia, special raffles and an opportunity postgame to meet and greet select players and coaches. All proceeds will benefit both the Jim Johannson Legacy Fund of The USA Hockey Foundation and the Ellie Johannson College Fund.

Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19

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USA TODAY

Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19

Despite missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks will appear on national television a league-high 19 times during the 2018-19 season, NBC Sports announced on Monday. Eleven of them will appear exclusively on NBC or NBCSN, with the other eight on NBC Sports Chicago in the Chicago area.

Eight of the 19 games will also land on "Wednesday Night Hockey," which will replace "Wednesday Night Rivalry" as part of NBC Sports' most diverse exclusive schedule to date that will include a total of 109 games. 

Here are five games to circle from the 11 games that will be aired exclusively on national TV, in order of how they appear on the schedule:

1. The new-look Blues — Nov. 14 vs. St. Louis at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

There might not have been a team in the Central Division that had a stronger offseason than the Blues. After failing to secure a postseason berth for the first time since 2010-11, they went out a traded for top-six center Ryan O'Reilly, signed Tyler Bozak to ensure even more depth down the middle, and added power forwards Patrick Maroon and David Perron to round out their top-nine. Not to mention the offensively skilled Robby Fabbri will be returning to the lineup after missing the entire 2017-18 campaign with an ACL injury. It'll be a nice early test for the Blackhawks.

2. Three Cups vs. three Cups — Dec. 12 vs. Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

Whenever the Blackhawks and Penguins get together it's always a fun battle to watch because there's so much firepower sharing the same sheet of ice: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews. That's five future Hall of Famers right there. There's also the fact that they are tied for most Stanley Cups in the salary cap era with three, adding some extra juice between two teams that don't often see each other.

3. Winter Classic — Jan. 1 vs. Boston at 12 p.m. on NBC at Notre Dame Stadium

For the sixth time in franchise history, the Blackhawks will appear in an outdoor game. But they haven't had much luck in those games, losing four of the previous five, including all three of their Winter Classic appearances. The Bruins are 1-1 in outdoor games and will look to break the .500 mark in a rematch of the memorable 2013 Stanley Cup Final — at least for the city of Chicago — and Original Six showdown.

4. The defending champion Capitals come to town — Jan. 20 at 11:30 a.m. on NBC

Any time the reigning champions visit your city, it's a game you know you can't take off. Especially since it's the Game of the Week. Alex Ovechkin fell one goal shy of hitting the 50-goal mark for the eighth time in his NHL career at age 32 last season, but it was still good enough to win his seventh "Rocket" Richard Trophy. More importantly, he scored 15 goals and added 12 assists in 24 postseason contests to help lead the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs while doing so. He's still the greatest goal scorer in hockey — perhaps even of all time — and that's a reason in and of itself why it's a must-watch, even though in his last game against Chicago he was held without a shot attempt for the first time in his NHL career.

5. Rekindling an old rivalry with Red Wings — Feb. 20 at Detroit at 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Ever since the NHL realigned the divisions in 2013-14, the Blackhawks and Red Wings get to see each other only twice per season — once at home and once on the road. No two teams in NHL history have squared off more than these two, so it's certainly been an adjustment. But fans know how deep this rivalry goes, and every time they do clash, there's a playoff-like atmosphere in the building and you can feel it through your television screen as well. This will likely be no different.

Check out the Blackhawks' full national television schedule here: