Five Things: Corey Crawford shines again in Blackhawks win


Five Things: Corey Crawford shines again in Blackhawks win

Corey Crawford was an observer for the Blackhawks’ game in Nashville on Thursday night and his synopsis was accurate.

“Can’t get worse than that,” he said.

On Friday, the Blackhawks had the right response from that debacle, taking a 2-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The Blackhawks have now won three of their last four and remain in third place in the very competitive Central Division.

[MORE: Patrick Kane extends point streak as Blackhawks blank Jets]

But we’re not getting into big-picture stuff yet. So for now, let’s just look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ second victory this week over the Jets.

1. Patrick Kane makes it 25. The point streak continues for Kane, whose power-play goal extended it to 25 games. His streak ties Sidney Crosby for the longest since the 1992-93 season (Crosby’s came from November-December of 2010). Kane’s comfortable dealing with the extra attention he’s gotten with the streak. “I think going into every game there's going to be some type of attention on you,” he said. “If you worry about that too much, it gets to your head and can only do negative things to you. So just try to focus on getting the puck, making plays, create scoring chances, playing good in your own end when you're there and being confident out there too.”

2. Crawford does his part. Crawford last played Tuesday, when he stopped 36 of 37 shots in a victory over the Nashville Predators. He came back just as strong Friday with a 25-stop performance for his third shutout of the season. Crawford’s playing well again, allowing just two goals in his last three games, all victories. He saved his best for the third period, when the Jets had their best scoring opportunities. “He was great in the third,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Certainly he was solid, focused the first 40 [minutes] and did some good things. You could tell he was tracking the puck well and in the third he had to make some big stops, kept them off the board. Good for him.”

3. Paying the price. The Blackhawks’ other line of defense before Crawford was blocked shots. They recorded 23 on Friday, making Crawford’s job that much easier. Duncan Keith had a team-high six blocked shots and Trevor van Riemsdyk, who’s been more of a factor in this category, followed with five.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. The power play is working. Read that again, folks, your eyes are not deceiving you. The Blackhawks’ power play entered Friday’s game ranked sixth in the NHL and Jonathan Toews and Kane’s goals both came on the power play. It’s something we haven’t seen much these past few years but right now, the power play has been a big part of the Blackhawks’ offense.

5. Teuvo Teravainen no-look game working. On Tuesday it was a no-look goal against the Predators. On Friday his no-look pass to set up Kane’s power-play goal was a thing of beauty. Teravainen’s getting his confidence, and by that we mean his 2015 Stanley Cup Final confidence. That’s a good thing.

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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