Blackhawks

As expected, Vermette and Teravainen back in Blackhawks lineup

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As expected, Vermette and Teravainen back in Blackhawks lineup

Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen will be back in the lineup, as expected, when the Blackhawks host the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals tonight.

Vermette and Teravainen were benched in Game 3 but coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday that the two “could” play in tonight’s game. The two were in their usual spots in this morning’s line rushes, on the third line with Patrick Sharp.

“I just think there were some good stretches in Game 2, and that line can be a factor offensively,” Quenneville said. “Defensively they’ve been reliable as well. Just [bring] some pace, energy across the board. That four-line rotation that we felt was our best in Game 2 is what we’re looking for.”

[RELATED: Previous playoff exits teaching Ducks how to win]

For as much of a brouhaha the lineup story line became, the Blackhawks’ struggles in certain areas are why they lost Game 3. And they they need to improve in those facets if they want to win Game 4. The power play went 0-for-5 and the Blackhawks didn’t bug Frederik Andersen near enough, remaining on the perimeter too much – the Ducks blocked 27 Blackhawks shots.

“The effort must be there, but it’s not just about effort. We try to find the right positioning, the right timing and be in the right spot,” Marian Hossa said of opening up shooting lanes. “So the unit of five has to be on the same page.”

Also, some of the Blackhawks’ top players have been too quiet offensively. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp haven’t scored goals since May 3 (against the Minnesota Wild). Brandon Saad’s last goal came May 1 against the Wild. Bryan Bickell has just five assists through the entire postseason.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks are labeling this one a must-win, as they do just about every game they play this time of year. But they certainly don’t want to go back to Anaheim down 3-1 in this best-of-seven series.

“Whenever we get into a tough spot, or a spot where we feel overly comfortable on the other side of the spectrum, that’s when that experience comes into play. I guess this’ll be one of those situations. We don’t want them to get too comfortable, too far ahead in this series,” Toews said. “We know there is still another level we get to, and we’re working to get there. We just have to have fun and embrace it. We’ve got the guys in here who can do the job.”

Marcus Kruger didn’t take any face-offs in Game 3 but Quenneville said he expects Kruger to take some tonight. Kruger said he’s not suffering from any injury.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Return of the Crow

The Blackhawks got their man back between the pipes after a 10-month layoff due to a concussion. And he looked like same old "Crow."

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 shots for a save percentage of .900. He faced 12 shots and eight scoring chances in the first period, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The biggest save he made was on a Michael Grabner breakaway in the third period, bailing out a turnover in the neutral zone.

"I think I felt better in the second and third," Crawford said. "But they really didn’t get that many opportunities early. It was nice. I think they flipped one in for the first one, so that was kind of good just to get in it and feel one early. We were close in that one all game and we created a lot. I thought [Antti] Raanta played really well.

"It was a tough, tough break at the end. Still felt I should have stopped that one. We were right there, we were creating a lot and gotta try to come up with that one. Just gotta forget about it and worry about the next game."

2. Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews extend point streaks

The hot start continues for the Blackhawks' two leading scorers, both of whom assisted on Erik Gustafsson's goal in the second period to stretch their point streaks to six games. DeBrincat and Toews each have 10 points this season.

3. Overtime streak ends

The Blackhawks made history by forcing five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team has ever done in the four major sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). But they didn't have the comeback magic in them this time.

Entering Thursday, the Blackhawks were 1-0-1 when trailing after two periods. They were 5-28-2 last season for a win percentage of .143.

4. Familiar faces, new places

Five former Blackhawks took the ice for the Coyotes: Vinnie Hinostroza, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Oesterle, Richard Panik and Antti Raanta.

It was Hjalmarsson's first trip back to Chicago since being traded in the 2017 offseason. He received a nice video tribute during the second TV timeout of the first period, which made him very emotional.

"I almost got emotional too seeing his reaction," Toews said. "He's one of those guys you'll never forget what he meant to this locker room. He was a quiet guy in the room but we all know how he played and put everyone else before himself. Pretty cool reaction from the fans too. I think we were all sad to see him leave this locker room, he did a lot of special things and was a massive part of our championship wins. Happy for him to get that reception. It's well-deserved and obviously we miss having him around."

As far as the game, Hjalmarsson logged a team-high 22:18 of ice time and blocked three shots. Oesterle registered a secondary assist on Arizona's first goal, which was its first 5-on-5 of the season.

Hinostroza, who was also part of the Marian Hossa trade over the summer, scored twice in his return to his hometown, beating Crawford with a wrist shot to make it 2-1 in the second period and an empty-netter in the third; his second goal turned out to be the game winner, the fourth of his career and first as a member of the Coyotes.

Panik recorded four shot attempts (three on goal). And Raanta improved to 16-0-3 in his career at the United Center, a remarkable record for any goaltender in any situation.