Blackhawks

Five Things: Patrick Kane keeps going in Blackhawks win

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Five Things: Patrick Kane keeps going in Blackhawks win

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks probably already had the Blackhawks in their nightmares, considering how the Western Conference Final went last spring. The Blackhawks added to their angst on Friday.

After faltering for a good deal of their afternoon game, the Blackhawks came back with a crazy four-minute span, split between regulation and overtime, to beat the Ducks, 3-2. It was a wild finish for what was otherwise a mundane game for the Blackhawks, but they’ll certainly take the end of it.

So before we end this day, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ comeback victory over the Ducks.

1. Patrick Kane keeps on going. The Blackhawks looked like they were going to get shut out, and Kane’s point streak looked like it would end at 17. But then there was Duncan Keith’s goal, on which Kane had the secondary assist, with a scant 26.6 seconds remaining in regulation. And just like that, Kane’s got a career-best, 18-game point streak, equaling the best run by a U.S.-born player (he shares it with Eddie Olczyk and Phil Kessel). Corey Crawford said, “He could be the best American player of all time, and he’s still young. But he continues to do so many things and be that sort of game changer he’s been his whole career.”

2. Keith keeps scoring. The Blackhawks knew Keith’s return would mean a boost in their game, including on offense. Well, this is what his return has meant: In his six games prior to right-knee surgery, Keith had just two assists. In his seven games since returning, Keith has four goals — including two in as many games — and two assists. Yes, the Blackhawks missed him.

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3. Brent Seabrook quietly goes about his business. It was Seabrook feeding Keith on what would be the game-tying goal and Seabrook again setting up Artem Anisimov for the game winner. Seabrook recorded his second three-point game of the season with three assists during the Blackhawks’ late comeback. Not a bad finish for him, either.

4. Crawford big when necessary. Yes, Crawford got beat on two goals. Those two goals were a 2-on-0 and another odd-man rush, respectively. Otherwise Crawford was strong, holding off a Ducks team that was getting way too good of chances through the first and second periods. He also stopped two of his teammates’ inadvertent shots on him, so credit for those, too.

5. Ducks stunned. The Ducks were the better team through most of this one, there’s no doubt about that. And we’ve seen sturdier tripping calls than the one Ryan Getzlaf got whistled for on Andrew Shaw. But even after giving up the Marian Hossa power-play goal, the Ducks needed to stay calm. They didn’t. As Bruce Boudreau told the Ducks media after the game, “We’ve got to have better composure when we get the puck. We have to go to spots, make plays and not just throw it at (the Blackhawks). That’s what we ended up doing in the last two minutes. We were panicking and throwing it at them.”

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

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AP

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

COLUMBUS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday:

1. Corey Crawford steals the show

The Blackhawks had no business winning this game. They were being outshot 28-15 through two periods, committed four penalties and gave up 18 high-danger chances in the game. 

But Crawford bailed out his team like he often has done in the past, and was zoned in from the moment the puck dropped. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .974, picking up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017.

"Yeah, I felt good," Crawford said. "I think everyone was playing hard, rebounds, taking away sticks. That was a great effort by everyone."

"He was standing on his head for us," Patrick Kane said. "As Q would say, that’s a goalie win for us."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was vintage Crow."

2. Tic-tac-toe leads to go-ahead goal

The Blue Jackets were clearly the better team through two periods. The Blackhawks were fortunate to go into second intermission with the game still tied at 1-1.

The next goal was crucial, and they got it thanks to a give-and-go play by Brent Seabrook and Kane, who buried home a wide open net to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:14 left in regulation.

Was Kane expecting Seabrook to pass it back?

"No. Not a chance," Kane said laughing. "That’s his wheelhouse, coming right down there. He scores a lot of goals from that area. Saw it was like a 2-on-2, he was coming late, he jumped in the play on the first goal, did a great job, jumped in the play on that goal. Made a great pass. When I saw it come back, I just tried to stay patient, settle it down and make sure I hit the net, because I knew I had the whole open net."

3. Busy night for PK

The Blackhawks penalty kill was very busy. It was also on it's A-game, partly because their best penalty killer was Crawford.

The Blackhawks spent 6:31 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, allowing 11 shots total on it. But most importantly, they killed off all four penalties.

"We had some tough clears, but I thought we did some good things," Quenneville said. "We withstood some extended PK zone time there and found a way to keep us in the game. Obviously that next goal was huge and that second period was a big part of them having so much zone time, keeping us in our end. We'll say, hey good job, but Crow was the best penalty killer tonight."

4. Catching up with Kane on Artemi Panarin

Kane and Panarin spent only two seasons together, but they brought Blackhawks fans out of their seats on a nightly basis and it was amazing to watch the instant on-ice chemistry they shared. And most of it was non-verbal, which made it even more impressive. They were always on the same wavelength.

"Sometimes it takes time to build some chemistry but that was one of those things where it was like, I don't want to say instant chemistry, but after one or two preseason games we kind of new that maybe something special was going to happen," Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think he scored in his first game in the NHL, we had a really good game, we had the puck a lot, we sensed that this could be a fun way to play hockey."

Off the ice, Kane said Panarin would use Google translate on his phone to communicate while Kane would try using a Russian accent while saying English words.

The two of them got a chance to hang out for a little bit on Friday and Kane still keeps tabs on his former linemate.

"I always really enjoy watching him," Kane said. "If we have an off night or something, he's a really fun player to watch."

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

COLUMBUS — The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets blockbuster trade from the 2017 offseason is always a hot topic in Chicago when things aren't going great. It especially is when the two teams square off against each other, like Saturday at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season.

If it wasn't already apparent in Chicago, Artemi Panarin has emerged as a real NHL superstar and is set for a giant payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He set a Blue Jackets record with 82 points in a single season and has nine points (three goals, six assists) through six games this season.

Brandon Saad, on the other hand, had a challenging first year back with the Blackhawks in 2017-18 after netting only 35 points in 82 games and is off to a slow start this year as well with zero goals and two assists through six games. After a demotion to the fourth line, he was close to being a healthy scratch on Thursday, which only magnifies where things are at as the two get ready to clash.

But Saad was never going to be able to replace Panarin's offensive production. Everybody knows that. Yet, the offensive comparisons will always be there as a barometer and that's something Saad doesn't think about, no matter how much fans talk about it.

"I don't think I do it," he said. "We're different players. He's a great player. Fans are going to do whatever comparisons they want, but at the end of the day you've got to be true to yourself and do what you bring to the table. He's a great player around the league. You can see his highlights and his goals, he's definitely a special player. But at the end of the day I've got confidence in my abilities too. We both bring different attributes, but they're going to make comparisons regardless."

A big reason why the Blackhawks reacquired Saad, other than his ability to play a 200-foot game, is because he carries a $6 million cap hit through 2020-21, which is two years more than Panarin at the same cap hit. (It's also important to note that the Blackhawks hoped they were getting a reliable, young backup goaltender in Anton Forsberg, but the injury to Corey Crawford thrust him into a role he wasn't exactly prepared for.)

It's not all rainbows for Columbus right now regarding where things stand with Panarin, who has made it clear he's not ready to sign a long-term extension. All signs point to the 26-year-old winger hitting the market, putting the Blue Jackets in a tricky situation ahead of the trade deadline. The Blackhawks very well could have found themselves in this position, too, had a deal not been made.

Both sides are dealing with their own challenges of the trade. Saad is still a key piece to the Blackhawks' puzzle and they're hoping to get more out of him, for no other reason than the team's overall success.

"You want to have success regardless of who you're playing for, who you're traded for, things like that," Saad said. "Naturally, just as competitors, you want to bring that excitement and you want to have success with the team and personally."