Blackhawks

Crawford, Hawks edge Red Wings

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Crawford, Hawks edge Red Wings

The Blackhawks were missing their captain and two defensemen entering their matchup against Detroit, a formidable team to face even in optimum health.

But on a night when the Blackhawks needed the team-first mentality the most, they got it.

Jimmy Hayes and Marcus Kruger scored, and Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 32 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings 2-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks have won four in a row and remained in sixth place, three points behind fifth-place Nashville, which beat Vancouver tonight.

Both teams were missing their elite centers. Jonathan Toews is day to day with an upper-body injury for the Blackhawks, while the Wings Pavel Datsyuk is out 2-3 weeks after having knee surgery. And the Blackhawks were still minus defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador.

Despite all that, and a 1-0 deficit early in the first period, the Blackhawks got a hard-working game from everyone to hold off the Wings, who had won six in a row coming into Tuesday.

It just shows you, when were all playing together and everybodys doing the little things defensively -- forwards back-checking hard and being better in our own end and defensemen blocking shots it makes everyones job easier.

Offensively, the contributions came from the Blackhawks youngsters. Hayes, who was recalled on Friday, scored his fifth of the season to tie the game midway through the second. Kruger crashed the net barely two minutes into the third for the game-winner, the first of his NHL career.

Hayes last two games are reminiscent of his strong play when he came up the first time this season.

Its just one of those things, being a big guy, youve got to be in front of the net. The shot got through, (there was) some traffic with Bickell there, and it just popped right on my stick there for a nice tap-in, Hayes said. The atmosphere was huge here. It was a big game for both teams, the one we needed to keep this going in the right direction.

And Crawford took care of his part, too, winning his fourth consecutive game. The Blackhawks No. 1 goaltender has allowed just one goal in each of his last three starts. Coach Joel Quenneville called Crawfords outing rock solid.

Hes been awesome the last couple of (games), said Patrick Sharp, who was stymied several times by Detroits Jimmy Howard. Its a tough position: you get credit when you win and take the heat when you lose. But in our locker room I can tell you we believe in him 100 percent. And to see the way hes working away from games, its definitely paying off.

Crawford said he got plenty of help.

The last 10 minutes of that game they had barely any (shots), Crawford said. Its another good game for us to play when were down for most of it. Again and we just keep playing our game, not trying to do too much to get back. Were playing a simple game, making the plays that we should.

The Blackhawks are playing with the pack mentality. They needed to against a team like Detroit. The losing streak is still in the Blackhawks minds, but more victories like this and itll be a distant memory.

Its a big boost (beating the Wings). Theyre in first place for a reason, Sharp said. That (losing) streak was good for us. Were playing a solid team game now, working hard.

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.