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Five things from Blackhawks-Ducks Game 6: Shaw's clutch play

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Five things from Blackhawks-Ducks Game 6: Shaw's clutch play

At this time of year you need big performances. It doesn’t really matter from whom they come: a role player, a superstar who’s used to doing it all time, whoever.

The Blackhawks got the necessary outings from guys in both those categories on Wednesday night, as they beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 and forced a Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals. So instead of us blathering on during these set-up paragraphs, let’s just cut to the gist and give you Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Game 6 victory.

1. Duncan Keith is a machine. It’s official: he’s not human. The defenseman who coach Joel Quenneville called “a freak” when it comes to his fitness level and ability to get better the longer he plays, Keith was tremendous with a three-assist, plus-3 night on Wednesday. Said Brandon Saad, “being around a few years, it’s something that’s expected, really. He brings it every night and the minutes he logs and the vision he has out there to have a patient game and make those plays you saw on the [Marian] Hossa goal it’s pretty incredible.”

[MORE: Big second period proves to be difference for Blackhawks in Game 6 win]

2. Andrew Shaw’s critical goals. The Ducks had all the momentum in the third period, the one in which there wasn’t a whistle for about eight minutes. They scored early in the third to make it 3-2 Blackhawks, they kept pushing and they kept the Blackhawks on the defensive. Then Shaw scored the first of his two, giving the Blackhawks a 4-2 lead andgiving fans a chance to exhale. “They’re all pretty special,” Shaw said of playoff goals. “They don’t come around too often. You play good in your own zone, those offensive chances are going tocome.”

3. Getting more physical. Anaheim’s a bruising team, and part of their plan is to wear down the Blackhawks with a lot of hits. On Wednesday the Blackhawks hit back, recording 38 hits to the Ducks’ 43. Bryan Bickell had three on one of his first-period shifts. Shaw finished with a team-high seven hits. In our opinion, the Blackhawks don’t want to get into that hit-for-hit game; it’s not theirs. But for one night, they liked giving back what they’ve taken the past few games.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. The “man-child” comes through again. Yes, Brandon Saad is going to get paid handsomely this summer. Saad, who had three goals through his first 13 postseason games, has scored two in his last three contests. Both were the Blackhawks’ first goals of their respective games (4 and 6). Saad’s size and speed have been big factors down this series’ stretch.

5. Confidence heading into Game 7. The Blackhawks have it. Will it benefit them? The Ducks have failed to close inprevious Game 7s but this isn’t the same Ducks team of the past. They’ll be strong and they’ll be ready at the Honda Center, where they’ve lost just one game this postseason (Game 2 vs. the Blackhawks). Still, there’s something to be said for experience. “We’ve had some good games there this year and in the playoffs. But it’s like anything else: it’s one game, and it’s just a matter of going out an executing in the one game,” Keith said. “We have experience being on the road; you try to draw on that as much as you can and do the best you can.”

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

Kirby Dach made his pro debut on Saturday, but it wasn't with the Blackhawks.

The No. 3 overall pick from this past June was activated from his injured/non-roster designation and assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League for conditioning purposes and jumped right into the lineup. He didn't appear in any NHL preseason games because he was under the league's concussion protocol during training camp.

In his season debut, Dach recorded two shots on goal and had a minus-1 rating in a 4-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. He centered the fourth line with Brandon Hagel and Nick Moutrey.

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton discussed the decision to send Dach to Rockford after Saturday's game against the Winnipeg Jets, and it sounds like the organization remains committed to giving him a look at the NHL level whenever his conditioning stint is over.

"He hasn't played in a long time," Colliton said. "Missed training camp, missed the exhibition season. We think he can help us so we're trying to set him up, give him the best opportunity so when he does get the chance here he'll be as ready as he can be. It's a good league down there and a chance for him to get his feet wet against men. And I think he's been getting better and better in his practice time here with us. So I'm excited. Hopefully, he can gain confidence down there and then be ready to help us."

Because he's not eligible to play in the AHL full-time this season due to Canadian Hockey League rules, Dach's conditioning stint in Rockford can last up to 14 days, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, before the Blackhawks are forced to either recall him or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League.

Rockford has four more games over that span, with its next one on Monday against the Laval Rocket at BMO Harris Bank Center.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Saturday:

1. Squandering a two-goal lead

For the second straight home game, the Blackhawks jumped out in front and even built an early cushion by scoring the first two goals in the opening frame. But they allowed the Jets to score three unanswered, including the overtime winner by Mark Scheifele, to remain winless on the season (0-2-1).

"We did a good job in the first and they took it to us in the second," said Brandon Saad, who scored a shorthanded goal. "Lehnny made some big saves and the third was kind of even. But we definitely had chances to close it out and we didn’t. At least we got a point and we have to move on from it."

2. Another lackluster second period

If there's one thing you can point to that's been a trend in all three games so far, it's that the Blackhawks have been lackluster in the second period. And it's difficult to pinpoint why.

In the middle frame, the Blackhawks have 10 scoring chances for and 35 against at 5-on-5, two high-danger chances for and 10 against at 5-on-5 and a minus-19 shot differential, according to Natural Stat Trick. That's an area of the game they're trying to clean up and has been the downfall to their attempts of putting together a full 60-minute effort.

"Obviously it's been three in a row where we haven't been very good in the second period and to me that's where you show how good you are," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The best teams, they dominate the second period, so it's a point of emphasis for us. We'd like to control the tempo of the game and control the territory, out-chance the other team. That's where you show how good you are, so we're not close to where we want to be in that area."

3. Robin Lehner's debut

After going two weeks without game action, the Blackhawks gave the nod to Lehner, who went into Saturday with a 4-0-0 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in five career games against the Jets. He took the loss, but certainly did his part to deserve a win.

In regulation, Lehner stopped 30 of 32 shots for a save percentage of .938. The first goal was on the power play, the second came at 5-on-5 when Andrew Copp found himself all alone in front and the third was in overtime during 3-on-3 action. His 5-on-5 save percentage was .962, which will definitely work.

"I felt good," Lehner said. "I felt like I saw the puck well. I thought rebound control was good. Again, the first one is unfortunate, it squeaks through. But I was where I wanted to be in position and somehow it goes in. Gotta try to clean that up. And the third goal, it just dove on me. He missed his shot. It’s unfortunate. But I thought I made some good saves and felt comfortable. We got a point, which is something, but should’ve got a win today."

4. Penalty kill shows improvement

The Blackhawks gave up a power-play goal for the third consecutive contest, but this was close to being a perfect night for the penalty kill. They went 3-for-4 and gave up only four shots on goal in the 7:38 of shorthanded time.

On the first Jets power play of the night, Saad scored a shorthanded goal for his first of the season and the Blackhawks later generated two more scoring chances before the two minutes expired.

The power-play goal against should've been stopped by Lehner but he did everything right and had the shortside sealed, the puck just found a mini hole. The Blackhawks responded with a big kill and had one late in the third period also. No complaints.

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