Five Things from Blackhawks-Stars: Right response in third period

Five Things from Blackhawks-Stars: Right response in third period

DALLAS – What started as a rather dull game turned out to be anything but on Saturday night. The Blackhawks were once again sweating it a bit in the third period but, after flirting with another tough loss, they pulled it out.

As Niklas Hjalmarsson said, they don’t care how they get the two points, just as long as they do. So before we head home from Ice Show Trip, Part I, let’s look at five things to take away from the Blackhawks’ 5-3 victory over the Stars.

1. The right response in the third. The Blackhawks were down 3-2 nearing the midway point of the third and, considering they hadn’t scored a third-period goal since Jan. 22 against Vancouver, this one wasn’t looking good. Well that Stars lead lasted a whole 35 seconds before Patrick Kane’s slick backhand. The Blackhawks kept coming after that, with two more goals (Trevor van Riesmdyk’s game winner and Jonathan Toews’ empty-net goal). Yes, dicey and the lost lead was again a bit worrisome. But you’re looking for the necessary response, and the Blackhawks had it in this one.

2. Ryan Hartman’s massive block. Jamie Benn had a gaping net in front of him, as Corey Crawford was pulled to his glove side on a previous stop. But a moment later Benn also had Hartman in front of him, blocking the shot and saving a goal. Hjalmarsson, who’s made a career out of making critical blocks, was proud of that one. “Oh, that was huge. I was screaming at him at the bench. That would’ve been a goal otherwise. It would’ve been a tap in. Great play by Hartsy.”

3. A much improved second. We won’t review their second period against Arizona on Thursday. You all saw it; it wasn’t good. This second period could’ve been rough, too, especially with the Stars scoring just eight seconds into it. But instead of getting sloppy and heading to the penalty box, the Blackhawks responded with shots and goals, taking a 2-1 lead into the third.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Good work from Tanner Kero. The young center plays a blue-collar game and he had another good outing on Saturday night. Kero set up Hartman’s goal in the second period and won five of his seven faceoffs. Kero and Hartman have had good chemistry, which developed during their time in Rockford, and Hartman said it’s continued here. “Kers made a great play on that goal and was real strong on his stick, threw it over to me. He knew I was there and made a great play.”

5. Congratulations to Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks goaltender stopped 31 of 34 shots for his 20th victory of the season, but it’s where he is on the team’s all-time list that’s noteworthy. Crawford now has 202 career victories, good for third among the franchise’s all-time winningest goaltenders. Crawford said last week at the All-Star festivities that he’s grateful for the opportunity to play in Chicago. He keeps building on that. “I just want to keep going and keep moving up,” he said. “Yeah, that’s pretty special.”

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

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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