Blackhawks

Five Things from Blackhawks-Capitals: Marian Hossa continues to roll

Five Things from Blackhawks-Capitals: Marian Hossa continues to roll

The Blackhawks' seven-game winning streak came to a hault following a 3-2 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday, but they found a way to pick up another point in their 10th consecutive game. 

The Blackhawks haven't lost in regulation since Oct. 21 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Let's look at Five Things to take away from Friday's overtime loss before turning the page to Sunday's game, the final one before the Circus Trip:

1. Special teams bails itself out.

After going 5-for-16 (31.25 percent conversion rate) in their previous three games, the Blackhawks' power play entered Friday's contest by scoring just one goal in their last 17 tries in their past four games. They allowed a shorthanded goal on their first of two power play attempts, but quickly responded when Brian Campbell slapped home his second goal of the season 22 seconds later.

The Blackhawks also didn't commit a single penalty in the game for the first time all season after taking at least two penalties in each of their first 14 games.

2. Marian Hossa continues to roll.

Hossa has scored a goal in three straight games, and has seven goals and three assists in his last eight. That puts him at eight goals in 15 games this season, which is already more than halfway to the 13 goals he had in 64 games a year ago. 

"It's inspiring to watch the way he's playing right now," Jonathan Toews said of Hossa. "He's playing with energy and he's just a force. I think he's really just enjoying the game, it looks like he's having fun."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Nick Schmaltz demoted, Ryan Hartman promoted.

Nick Schmaltz, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were held to zero shots on goal in the first two periods, prompting coach Joel Quenneville to make a line tweak in the third period. For the second straight game, Schmaltz lost his spot on the top line, this time for Ryan Hartman, who had a plus-5 Corsi.

"He jump all game long, that's why I put him on that group there," Quenneville said of Harman. "We think that Hartzy can bring energy, he can make plays, get to the net and he knows how to do his thing. ... We'll see how it turns out as we're going along here, but certainly Hartzy in the course of a game based on how he's playing, I liked how he responded to that challenge of going up there."

4. Fourth line shines.

Before Ryan Hartman was promoted to the first line, he along with Vincent Hinostroza and Jordin Tootoo owned the best possession numbers among any of the four lines on both sides through the first two periods. Tootoo had a plus-6 Corsi, Hinostroza was a plus-5 and Hartman was a plus-4. Their bottom-six continues to quietly be effective, and Tootoo remains one of eight players in the NHL that has yet to be on the ice for an even-strength goal allowed this season.

5. Blackhawks rely on late game heroics once again.

The Blackhawks channeled some late game magic once again, finding a way to push the game into overtime after Marian Hossa scored the game-tying goal with 23 seconds left in regulation, but found themselves in an all-too familiar position. They now rank second in the league with 20 third-period goals and will certainly take a point, but the Blackhawks know they can't keep waiting till the final frame to turn it up.

"At that point it would be nice to find a way," Jonathan Toews said. "When you come up short you're always going to look at the things you didn't do. I think getting behind against a team like that, the way they play defensively, you can't continue to rely on scoring goals late in games like that. We've just got to focus on playing ahead against a team like that."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Kirby Dach on road to NHL, role with Blackhawks and rapid fire Q&A

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Kirby Dach on road to NHL, role with Blackhawks and rapid fire Q&A

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis goes 1-on-1 with Kirby Dach to discuss what the past five months have been like since being drafted No. 3 overall, his reaction after finding out he would stay with the Blackhawks past the nine-game tryout and what he's learned the most at the NHL level.

They also play a fun game of rapid-fire Q&A, which includes his favorite cheat day meal, the last concert he attended, NHL players he looked up to as a kid and more.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

 

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Erik Gustafsson is back to looking like player he was last season for Blackhawks

Erik Gustafsson is back to looking like player he was last season for Blackhawks

Less than three weeks ago, Erik Gustafsson fell out of the rotation for the Blackhawks. The offensive production wasn’t there and the defensive part of his game was trending in the wrong direction.

Since being healthy scratched on Nov. 2 against Los Angeles, Gustafsson has looked like a different player. He’s starting to resemble the impact-type player he was last season when he became one of six NHL defensemen to finish with at least 60 points.

And it’s because he’s getting back to his roots.

“I don’t know how, from a scratch, my confidence can get up so fast but I feel like myself a little bit more now,” Gustafsson told NBC Sports Chicago. “I got a video guy that I worked with last year and working with him right now and went back and looked at those videos a couple days ago and it's just a whole other player from last year and now. I just wanted to come back to that moment. I felt like I was having fun out there and not thinking too much.

“I think my defensive part is better than last year but I just want to get back to when I have the puck and I've felt pretty good now the past four games, so let's keep it going."

Gustafsson said that after morning skate on Wednesday. He followed it up by scoring his first goal of the season later that night in a 5-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, roofing a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to end a 16-game goal drought.

“He just looks much more confident with the puck,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “He’s cleaner. He still has a couple turnovers here and there but he’s going to turn it over every once in a while. We just want him to try to be as clean as he can and situationally manage when he’s going to try and do those things.”

It helps that Gustafsson is back to earning top minutes, which he admitted is beneficial because if he has a bad shift he doesn’t have to dwell on it too long. But Colliton is trying walk the line of giving Gustafsson enough rope to make mistakes while also holding him responsible for his play.

“It’s a balance,” Colliton said. “Because you’ve got to earn the minutes you get and if you’re not doing the job then your minutes will go down. But at the same time, I don’t believe that if you make one mistake you should get the hook. That’s a tough way to play when you’re always worried if I make one mistake, you’re going to be punished for it or whatever it may be. So as a coach, that’s the balance, the line we walk to try to get the most out of every player but also make sure there’s accountability.”

Earlier in the season, Gustafsson was consumed by trying to develop a defense-first mentality without taking away from his offensive instincts. Now he’s gotten back to focusing on the strengths of his game rather than the weaknesses, and it’s allowed him to play looser. 

"I think it was a lot of parts like moving my feet, skating,” Gustafsson said of what he noticed during video sessions of his play last season vs. this season. “It's a big part about my game, too. I have to skate a lot. Last year when I got a guy on me I just faked going one side and went to the other side and just skated and tried to find that open lane to pass it. And I think at the start of this season I just wanted to get rid of the puck right away. I don't know if it's just confidence or something, but I think I’m moving my feet much better now than I did my first 10 games."

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