Five Things: Patrick Kane's point streak continues


Five Things: Patrick Kane's point streak continues

Entering this weekend, the Blackhawks were looking for some consistency and a few victories.

It wasn’t going to be easy, facing the Blues in St. Louis and a Calgary team that’s played better as of late. But after getting Duncan Keith and Michal Rozsival back and finding some lines that seem to be working, the Blackhawks are feeling better about their situation. They capped a back-to-back weekend with a victory, a 4-1 decision over the Flames, and they’ll hit the road having won three of their last four.

Ah, yes, the Circus Trip is just about here. So before we pack our bags and head out for a while, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Flames.

1. The point streak continues. With his goal and an assist on Sunday, Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 13 consecutive games. He’s one shy of his career best (14 games from Nov. 30 to Dec. 28, 2013), and he’ll get a chance to tie that Wednesday in Edmonton. Kane’s always been a strong starter each season, but as coach Joel Quenneville said, “This year (he) started at the top level and keeps going every night.”

2. Marian Hossa can exhale. After having a month’s worth of great scoring opportunities, including a few breakaways, Hossa broke his scoring drought on an end-over-end shot that seemed to handcuff Flames goaltender Karri Ramo. Hossa’s been strong on the defensive side throughout his scoring slump, but getting that goal — and setting up Jonathan Toews’ empty-net goal at the end — were results for a player who’s put in the work.

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3. Brent Seabrook takes his lumps. The defenseman needed a few stitches to close up a gash on his forehead after Michael Frolik’s shot caught him there at the end of the second period. Outside of that pain, it was another strong night for Seabrook, who logged 22 minutes, 25 seconds, added his ninth assist of the season and led the Blackhawks (along with Trevor van Riemsdyk) with four blocked shots.

4. Scott Darling rebounds. Much like Corey Crawford, who’s had his tough outings as of late, Darling was looking for a chance to forget a bad last start. He had to wait a little more than two weeks for his next start, but he made the most of it, stopping 25 of 26 shots in his second victory of the season.

5. Is this more like it? OK, the second liners are still doing a bulk of the scoring, but the Blackhawks are getting a few more guys chipping in on offense. Their Keith-and-Rozsival-reinforced defense got stronger this weekend, allowing three goals in the two games. Quenneville said he “just felt better around the team” going into this game. They’re starting to find some chemistry outside of their second line. The Blackhawks will get plenty of tests on the Circus Trip, but this weekend couldn’t have turned out better.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning


Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period


Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.