Blackhawks

Five Things: Blackhawks' top line goes on a tear vs. Oilers

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Five Things: Blackhawks' top line goes on a tear vs. Oilers

The Blackhawks have looked more like themselves, be it with strong goaltending or more spread-out scoring. They got a good amount of both on Thursday night when they beat the Edmonton Oilers, 4-0.

It was a good response following Tuesday’s game, when they were the recipients of the shutout. Now to find out if their fourth-line center is OK. But we’ll get to that and other items as we look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Edmonton.

1. The top line plays the part. It was a great night for Teuvo Teravainen, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, who each had three-point nights for the Blackhawks. Teravainen had two goals and an assist, Toews had a goal and two assists and Hossa had three assists. Teravainen is starting to play like a guy who knows he belongs in the top six. The hesitancy is starting to wane, and the points are starting to increase. That’s no coincidence. If these three can continue the chemistry, it could be a very potent line.

2. Corey Crawford records another shutout. Our apologies, Corey: You should have been included in the Three Stars (or we should have pushed for a fourth one or combined the top line as one, something like that). Anyway, Crawford stopped 33 shots to record his third shutout in his last four games. He now has the league lead in shutouts this season (five) and is going through arguably the best stretch of his career. After losing focus for part of this season, Crawford’s locked in right now.

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3. Is Marcus Kruger OK? That question remained unanswered on Thursday night after Kruger left the game with what looked like a left hand/wrist injury. Kruger might not be scoring this season, but he’s been a reliable fourth-line center and penalty killer for the Blackhawks. As Duncan Keith said, Kruger brings “all those little intangible things.” The Blackhawks will miss him if he misses any time.

4. Blackhawks stay out of the box. There were just two penalties in Thursday’s game, and both of them were against the Oilers. The Blackhawks’ kill has looked good lately, but they didn’t even have to utilize it in this one. As Crawford said, that helps the entire defensive game.

5. Niklas Hjalmarsson takes a licking. When Hjalmarsson went down in a heap after blocking Justin Schultz’s shot in the first period, it didn’t look good. It’s rare when Hjalmarsson stays down for any length of time or goes to the locker room, which he did after taking that Schultz shot to his left knee. Yet, there was the defenseman, back on the ice just a few minutes after that block. Guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

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

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USA TODAY

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.