Blackhawks

Five things from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Hossa ends slump

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Five things from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Hossa ends slump

The United Center crowd gave the Blackhawks a standing ovation at the end of the second period on Sunday night. It was earned, considering the Blackhawks put up six goals in the first 40 minutes.

It’s been a good time for the Blackhawks, who won their seventh in a row on Sunday with a 6-3 decision over the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks are midway through the season, a time when a team can hit the doldrums. Instead, they’re hitting on all cylinders. So before we head into another busy week, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Avalanche.

1. Marian Hossa is back. Hossa was well aware of his scoring drought – his last goal was on Dec. 6 – and it was definitely frustrating, considering the chances he was getting. But he was one happy forward on Sunday night when he scored two goals. Hossa was part of a top line that played the part of a top line in this one. So did he rejoice afterward, scream “Thank God” or “finally”? “Something like that, definitely,” Hossa said.

[MORE: Blackhawks figure out Varlamov in a big way on Sunday]

2. Fourth line contributes. Brandon Mashinter waited for another chance to crack the Blackhawks’ lineup and he made the most of it. Mashinter scored his second goal of the season 8:27 into the game to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. That line of he, Dennis Rasmussen and Ryan Garbutt was better overall. After no shots and playing about five minutes of the Blackhawks’ last game, those three each had a point and combined for seven shots on goal.

3. The right combination vs. Varlamov. Semyon Varlamov is tough to beat for two reasons. First, he’s a pretty good goaltender. Second, he’ll stop anything he sees. For most of their latest matchups, the Blackhawks have allowed Varlamov to see most of their shots. Not on Sunday, however, when they got on his doorstep or in his way. Traffic and shots getting through: who knew?

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Keeping the pressure on. When the Avalanche – make that Matt Duchene – got back to within one of the Blackhawks in the second period, there was a sense that the Avs were going to bring more. Credit the Blackhawks for not getting complacent. They kept pushing, using a power-play goal to regain a two-goal lead before expanding it to three before the end of the second period. The Blackhawks also didn’t get on their heels in the third period. Colorado scored one, but the Blackhawks outshot the Avs 14-11 for the period.

5. Richard Panik is (almost) here. Well, you all wanted to know when he got into town and coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks are “hopeful” that Panik gets here on Monday. Quenneville also talked of giving him a top-line shot. Does that still hold now that the Blackhawks are rolling with their current lineup? Following Sunday’s game Quenneville said, “we have to get him on the ice first. We’ll go from there.”

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes, coach Joel Quenneville confirmed after morning skate on Thursday morning.

"It’s exciting," Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks will assign forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: