MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — Duncan Keith’s shot looked pretty harmless, yet it got past Martin Jones anyway.
It was the game-winning goal in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 decision over the San Jose Sharks, as well as Keith’s third goal of the season. Even better, it was Keith’s 78th career goal, lifting him to fourth overall all-time among the Blackhawks’ defensemen.
“Well, I didn’t know that,” said Keith, who moved ahead of Pierre Pilote on the list. “It feels nice. But I know that at the end of the day, it means I’ve been here for a while. I still think I need to score a lot more goals.”
It’s not surprising that Keith didn’t know his latest milestone. He doesn’t seem the type to be keeping an eye on his stats. It’s obvious he never worries about minutes, either, since he plays a plethora of those. Keith just goes out and plays. And since returning from right-knee surgery earlier this month, it looks like Keith hasn’t missed a beat.
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Keith has played in six games since returning from surgery, and he’s been as good on both sides of the puck as he was before he was sidelined. He’s given the Blackhawks a boost on offense, recording three goals and an assist in his last six games.
And yes, he’s still logging those minutes — Keith played 27 1/2 in his first game back and logged 29:23 against the Sharks.
“That’s status quo for him,” said Brent Seabrook. “He’s a special player. He’s fun to watch. He’s one of those guys who (it’s) amazing to see what he’s able to do out there with his speed and quickness. When he’s got the puck, when he doesn’t have the puck, he’s one of the best defensemen in my eyes.”
The Blackhawks did all right in Keith’s absence, but there was no doubt they missed him. That might have been especially true on the offensive side of things. Even if Keith’s not scoring, he’s part of every situation including the power play. He could set someone up; if nothing else, his skill and the threat of what he can do means it’s one more player for whom opponents have to account.
“Yeah he’s been a big part of our offense ever since he came back,” Patrick Kane said. “He’s had a few goals. He starts a lot of plays even in our own end where we can get the puck, go the other way and play offense. He’s been playing great since he’s come back. I know he’s been relied upon heavily. I’m sure he’s happy with his first few games back here from injury.”
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So how is Keith feeling off that injury? As Keith puts it, “I think it feels fine for me for what I need to do out there. It’s just a matter of maintenance and things like that, to stay on it and make sure it’s feeling good.”
Keith looks like he’s back to his pre-surgery self. He probably won’t be aware of his next individual milestone, either. He’s too busy playing many minutes, filling many roles and helping the Blackhawks revive their offense.
“Our offense was limited for a big stretch (in Keith’s absence),” coach Joel Quenneville said. “And he provides that.”
— Teuvo Teravainen continues to improve off an upper-body injury. While Teravainen was not among the four lines at Thursday’s practice, coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks forward “could” play against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday afternoon.
— Corey Crawford will start vs. the Ducks.