Blackhawks

Hawks erupt for five goals in milestone period

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Hawks erupt for five goals in milestone period

Monday, March 14, 2011
Posted: 9:36 p.m. Updated: 11:15 p.m.

By Tracey MyersCSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks have had some very good second-period performances this season.

On Monday night, they had a great one.

WATCH: Sharp a happy helper

Patrick Kane scored his 100th career goal, Marian Hossa scored twice and Patrick Sharp had a franchise-tying record four assists in the second period as the Blackhawks came back to beat the San Jose Sharks 6-3 at the United Center on Monday night.

The Blackhawks scored five goals in the second period, erasing a 2-1 deficit and chasing former teammate Antti Niemi midway through the frame. The Blackhawks snapped a three-game winless streak and jumped back into fourth place in the Western Conference.

Jonathan Toews was also in on the second-period barrage, getting a goal and an assist. He now has 71 points this season, a new career high; his 30 goals are just four shy of the career-best 34 he had in 2008-09.

I thought we gathered ourselves pretty quickly after that start there, said coach Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks have now outscored opponents 82-54 in second periods. We did a lot of good things. You measure (great periods) in different ways, but certainly the timing of it you can certainly put it up there as one of the better ones (this season).

Toews said the big second period obviously dictated the outcome of the game so it was good for us. Especially when they made it 5-3 and we came back and got that sixth goal. We were just confident. We knew weve had a couple games where we squandered 2- or 3-goal leads and that wasnt going to happen (tonight).

WATCH: Special game for Hjalmarsson

And it was led by the Blackhawks big guns. Toews, Kane, Sharp and Hossa had just five points combined in the three previous games against the Sharks. On Monday night, they combined for 10 points.

Sharps assist tally marked the fifth time a Blackhawks player has done that in a period. The most recent occurrence was when Jim Pappin did it against Atlanta on March 24, 1973.

What was it, four assists in 15 minutes? Thats pretty crazy coming from him, said Kane, whose goal was set up by a Sharp pass. Hes just playing patient with the puck. He has time and space to make plays so good for him.

WATCH: Kane's 100th goal no big deal?

The Blackhawks dictated everything in the second period. They drew hooking and holding penalties, those catch-up infractions that drive coaches crazy, throughout the game and went 2 for 6 on the power play. Both of those came from Hossa.

For whatever reason in the first period we werent on the same page. We started working as a team (in the second), Hossa said. We were supporting each other and battling.

San Jose coach Todd McLellan said his Sharks did just the opposite.

If I was going to sum up the game, they skated, we glided. They were hard on the boards, we were soft. They were determined at the net, we played I hope around the net, he said.

It was Toews goal, however, that sent Niemi packing. The former Blackhawks goaltender was pulled after allowing four goals on 18 shots in a period and a half.

Hes a good goaltender, we know that, but it was good to get to him, Sharp said. Hes still a good friend, but you dont feel bad for him leaving.

Niklas Hjalmarsson and Viktor Stalberg also scored for the Blackhawks, who have now won five in a row at home. Corey Crawford stopped 33 of 36 for the victory.

The Blackhawks got a big one on Monday and did it convincingly. Theyve been on a roll at home. Theyd like to keep rolling regardless of venue.

We want to go into every single game looking for those two points, Toews said. Were back on track now. Maybe we didnt have the greatest road trip, but its time to get on another swing here.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

5 things we have learned after the Blackhawks first 5 games

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USA TODAY

5 things we have learned after the Blackhawks first 5 games

The Blackhawks hahve played five games, all five went to over time, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each have five goals.

So here are five things we've learned from the Blackhawks first five games.

1.    Blackhawks have a flair for the dramatic:

They are the first team in NHL history with 5 straight overtime games to begin a season. According to Elias, It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL. Not only have they not lost a game in regulation, but they have rallied in the third period in four of their five games. No final period rally was more dramatic than the home opener, when Patrick Kane & Auston Matthews had a three goal trade-off in a :56 second span, complete with a celly battle.

2.    Toews looks like a different player:

Or should I say, he looks like the guy who played a huge role in three Stanley Cups. The captain is faster, hard on the puck and making plays that we haven’t seen in the last few years. His nine points are tied with line-mate Alex DeBrincat for the team lead and amongst the top point getters in the league. Toews said before the season that he was humbled by missing the playoffs and it’s clear he heard the criticism about his lack of offensive production. Hard work this summer and solid chemistry with DeBrincat and Dominik Kahun have paid off in the first two weeks. Toews said he wanted to get back to having fun and so far, he’s had plenty to smile about.

3.    Power Play still needs to be fixed:

It was a major issue last season(ranked 28th) and it’s still a concern this year. They have only cashed in on 2 of 18 power plays, which ranks them 23rd in the NHL. I like the 1-3-1 set up and top unit that includes Kane, Toews, Schmaltz, DeBrincat and Jokiharju. They made a tweak last game, putting DeBrincat at the top of the slot and Schmaltz at the left circle. They are hoping to take advantage of Cat’s quick and accurate shot. The other concern on the power play is the entries. They continue to use the drop pass as their primary way to enter the zone. It’s not been very successful this season. They may need to install one more option on the entry. The bottom line, they won’t make the playoffs if their power play ranks in the bottom third of the league.

4.    Blackhawks blue line is still a work in progress:

Henri Jokiharju has been a tremendous addition to a group that was a major question mark entering the season. Jokiharju is the second best defenseman on the team right now and with Duncan Keith, they are a legit top 4 pairing. The problem with the other two pairs are major inconsistencies. You will see a stretch of solid play, but it’s inevitably followed by a crucial turnover or defensive breakdown. In this loaded central division, a handful of defensive miscues could be the difference in making the playoffs or being on the golf course in April.

5.    Cam isn’t Crow:

Cam Ward has been solid in his first 5 games as a Blackhawk. It’s actually incredible the Hawks are 3-0-2 when you consider Ward has a .879 Sv% and 4.07 GAA. Unlike last season’s fill-ins, Ward has been able to avoid the dreaded soft goal. It still looks like Corey Crawford could return Thursday against Arizona, or this weekend at the latest, when they play back-to-back tilts. Everyone is crossing their fingers that Crow will not experience any setbacks when he returns to the crease. Joel Quenneville said the team doesn’t like to carry 3 goalies, but they may be forced to do that, with uncertainty surrounding Crawford and Anton Forsberg having to pass through waivers before being sent to Rockford. Goaltending is everything in the NHL and in all likelihood the Blackhawks postseason chances still hinge on Crawford returning to the form we’ve seen the last several years.

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

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AP

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."