Blackhawks

Ducks 'outstanding' PK proves to be X-Factor in Game 3 win

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Ducks 'outstanding' PK proves to be X-Factor in Game 3 win

Any momentum the Blackhawks had from their dramatic Game 2 triple-overtime victory was killed early. 

In front of a raucous United Center crowd that had been waiting for the Blackhawks to play on home ice since May 3, the Hawks weren't able to give their fanbase much to cheer about in a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final thanks in large part to coming up empty on the power play. 

And the chances were there for the taking for Chicago. 

The Ducks, who have killed off eight consecutive power play attempts by the Blackhawks dating back to Game 2, were up to the task once again on Thursday evening. Anaheim was whistled for two penalties within the first 11 minutes of Game 3. After killing off both Chicago attempts, Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg was given a double minor for a high stick on Andrew Shaw late in the first period. The Blackhawks couldn't cash in on a generous four minute power play, failing to generate many prime scoring chances on a stingy Ducks penalty kill unit.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

After allowing Shaw and Marian Hossa to notch power play goals for the Blackhawks in the first seven minutes of Game 2, the Ducks made sure they weren't going to put themselves in an early hole. 

"It's not easy to do for anybody," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "But we killed a lot in the first period which is not the way you want to start a hockey game. Last game it ended up biting us and tonight we are able to persevere and play the way we wanted to on the kill."

For a team as talented as the Blackhawks, generating just one shot on five chances is completely mind blowing with players such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Hossa on the power play unit. But most of the credit has to go to the Ducks for swallowing up every chance the Hawks had.

The Ducks applied pressure, blocking each and every shot attempt the Blackhawks tried to send through on goaltender Frederik Andersen. They were faster to the puck, winning every puck battle along the boards. 

"We made some great reads, especially when pucks were up for grabs and on 50/50 pucks," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "I thought all four of our guys were on the same page with the pressure, and then when it was time to make sure we were in shooting lanes and they have full control I thought we did a great job of that and blocking shots.

[MORE: Ducks regroup to regain home ice advantage]

"You also need your goaltender to be a great penalty killer for you and he made some great saves for us. When our penalty kill is going I think it's really good, and the main thing is you just have to have confidence in that and tonight we started building on that."

In a low scoring game, a big power play goal or a timely penalty kill is usually the difference on the scoresheet. 

And although the Ducks know they have to stay out of the penalty box, especially against a dangerous Blackhawks team that can strike at any time, they're confident in the special teams group they have. 

"You got to take our hats off to the PK tonight," Ducks forward Patrick Maroon said. "The PK was outstanding. I think it was one of those games where it was going to be the PP or PK that was going to win us a hockey game and our PK won us the hockey game tonight."

With two teams that are so evenly matched in every sense of the way, all it takes is one X-Factor to steal a win.

Thursday's Game 3 X-Factor put the Ducks two victories away from a Stanley Cup Final appearance. 

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.