Blackhawks

Five Things from Hawks-Bolts Game 2: Penalties kill

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Five Things from Hawks-Bolts Game 2: Penalties kill

TAMPA, Fla. — The Blackhawks liked more of what they did in Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning than in Game 1. The result, however, they didn’t care for so much.

As much as the Blackhawks had more zip at the start, they didn’t have enough finish in their 4-3 loss to the Lighting on Saturday night. They’ll take the 1-1 Stanley Cup Final split heading back to Chicago, where they host Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. So before we head back home ourselves, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to the Lightning.

[MORE: Lightning stave off Blackhawks in Game 2, even up series]

1. Penalties kill. Patrick Sharp had a rough four minutes early in the third period, when he was whistled for two consecutive penalties (slashing and high-sticking). The Blackhawks killed off the first penalty and were 28 seconds away from killing off the second one. But Jason Garrison’s blue-line shot got through — hitting off Andrew Desjardins, we believe — for the game-winning goal. Sharp said he apologized to the Blackhawks’ penalty killers. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks may have been “a little tired on the latter part of the kill. We did an outstanding job on the first one and almost got through the second one.”

2. Corey Crawford “just OK.” That was Quenneville’s assessment on the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender, who was great in Game 1 but allowed one or two not-so-good ones in Game 2. The toughest one to swallow was Tyler Johnson’s goal, which bounced up and off Crawford’s back and in. Crawford will need to be better than “just OK” in Game 3.

3. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane separate. Listen, we know everyone likes Toews and Kane together on the top line. But right now, it’s not working. The Lightning’s checking line, centered by Cedric Paquette, is shutting the duo down. Kane didn’t have a shot on goal in Game 2. By the start of the third period the two were separated. They should stay that way, because one of the league’s most dynamic duos has gone cold and needs a spark that they’re not getting together.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Memorize Andrei Vasilevskiy’s name. We’re only saying that just in case he’s Tampa Bay’s starter in Game 3. Listen, we don’t know what happened to Ben Bishop. One Montreal television outlet reported Bishop having a knee injury. Others are saying it’s just an illness. Lightning coach Jon Cooper would say nothing, as is expected in a Cup Final. So know the backup goaltender’s name just in case. We’ll practice spelling it too.

5. Be happy with the split. Let’s remember the Blackhawks weren’t that great in Game 1 and still came away with the victory — we’re paraphrasing Toews there. The Blackhawks are heading back home with this series tied 1-1, which is never a bad thing. We expect a change or two in Game 3 — well, we expect Trevor van Riemsdyk to play, at least. Also expect the Blackhawks to play their best game yet, from start to finish. 

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

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.