Blackhawks

Corey Crawford stellar as Blackhawks beat Predators

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Corey Crawford stellar as Blackhawks beat Predators

Corey Crawford usually likes games in which he’s busy. Well, he didn’t have much quiet time on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators, and a busy Crawford was a successful Crawford.

Crawford stopped 36 of 37 shots and Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 23 games with the 600th point of his career as the Blackhawks beat the Predators, 4-1, at the United Center.

Dennis Rasmussen, playing in his first NHL game, scored his first career goal on his first career shot. Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist. Niklas Hjalmarsson had two assists.

The Blackhawks got the goals in the third period, but it was Crawford keeping things steady, especially through the first two periods.

“Yeah, I got in a groove early, saw the puck really well all game and our defensemen, again, were eliminating second chances,” Crawford said. “That makes the goalie’s job so much easier when you only have to stop the first one.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Patrick Kane extends point streak with empty-netter]

Coach Joel Quenneville called Crawford’s outing, “spectacular.”

“He was great,” he said. “We gave up high-quality (chances) tonight. We haven’t given up that kind of quality all year. First period he kept us in there, great in the second and big saves in the third, and all alone on a lot of them, which is unusual for us.”

The Blackhawks are starting to get more balance among their lines. They’re also started to get scoring from people other than Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin. Rasmussen gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with another thing the team needs: net-front-presence goals.

Shaw, who had one of his best games of the season, put the Blackhawks up 2-0 with a power-play goal in the second period. Eric Nystrom gave the Predators their only goal with less than a minute remaining in the second, a shot that went off his skate — but wasn’t kicked in — to cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1.

Then came the Blackhawks’ third-period push beginning with Teravainen, who scored just 14 seconds into the third for a 3-1 lead. It was the second consecutive game Teravainen’s scored an early third-period goal — he scored 21 seconds into the third against Winnipeg on Sunday.

“Good ice. I like to shoot with the good ice in the first part of the period,” he said. “I was still trying to look for the pass first but I had nothing, so I tried to shoot.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

Then came the empty-net goal for Kane, who Quenneville put out there late for a chance to extend his point streak.

“To be honest with you, I wasn’t thinking about it too much until you go out there in the end there and you hear the crowd cheering and you know they’re looking for something,” Kane said. “That’s when you want to get something at the end.”

The Blackhawks are starting to gain some traction. Their lines look better. They’re getting more balanced scoring. But on Tuesday, it was mainly Crawford’s show.

“I felt pretty good, made a few key saves at key points in the game,” Crawford said. “I just try to build off every game and stay as consistent as I can.”

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.