Blackhawks

With little to play for, Blackhawks fall to Bruins in regular season home finale

With little to play for, Blackhawks fall to Bruins in regular season home finale

The Blackhawks didn't have much on the line heading into Sunday's game.

They were already deemed best in the West on Saturday, when the Nashville Predators beat the Minnesota Wild. They'll have home ice throughout the conference playoffs. And while the Blackhawks almost pulled it out in the final 20 minutes, the visiting Boston Bruins, with more on the line, came away with this one. 

Artemi Panarin scored his 29th goal of the season but Kevan Millar's third of the season proved to be the game winner as the Bruins beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday. The Blackhawks wrapped up their regular-season home schedule with a push in the third period but Anton Khudobin was stellar throughout to keep them from pulling off the comeback.

So did the Blackhawks, with nothing on the line entering this one, have a tough time getting motivated for it?

"Tough to forecast," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Early game for both teams, and important game for them. For us, we wanted to make sure we played the right way. We didn't give up a ton and got better as the game went on."

No doubt, the Blackhawks saved their best for the final 20 minutes. After Millar gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead midway through the third Jordin Tootoo scored his second of the season just 25 seconds later to cut the Blackhawks' deficit to 3-2.

"We talked about all three of us going to the net, not being too pretty and getting some rebounds, some quick shots," said John Hayden, who had the primary assist on Tootoo's goal. "Fortunately that one worked out."

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But Khudobin wouldn't allow anything more, stopping 15 of the Blackhawks' 16 third-period shots. He stopped 41 of 43 for the game.  

The Bruins took advantage of the Blackhawks' semi-sluggishness, staking themselves to a 2-0 lead (Ryan Spooner and Patrice Bergeron) by the end of the first.

Panarin's late second-period goal was an interesting one. His first attempt hit Richard Panik, who had slid into the net, but he would score on the second attempt.

"I just battled with the guy to the net. I got an elbow to the head, then I just heard we scored," said Panik. "I was just shaking off from the elbow. I didn't even know there was a shot coming."

The Blackhawks will have some decisions to make during their final three road games. They may rest players as the road trip wears on and may tinker with some lines to see what their postseason options are. Sunday's game was fine but considering how much the Blackhawks already had wrapped up entering it, it wasn't surprising it wasn't their best 60-minute effort.

"I think we had to come out hard. I think both teams were feeling each other out," Brent Seabrook said. "A couple of plays we could have been better on. That's it."

What changes should Blackhawks make to power play?

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USA Today

What changes should Blackhawks make to power play?

In the month of October, no team scored fewer goals than the Blackhawks (25). Since the calendar flipped to November, no team has scored more goals than the Blackhawks (38).

Oh, how things can change in a month.

But the interesting part about the offensive turnaround is the fact the Blackhawks are doing it without having much power play success.

The Blackhawks have had 65 power-play opportunities this season and have converted on only nine of those attempts. That's a 13.8 percent success rate, which ranks 28th in the NHL.

Head coach Jeremy Colliton changed things up at the beginning of the month by dividing the units to spread the wealth rather than overload the first unit, the latter of which worked so well from December and on last season. 

It's time to go back to overloading the first unit.

Erik Gustafsson, who has three goals in his last four games, is finally looking like himself again after a 16-game goal drought to start the season. Patrick Kane is on a 10-game point streak. Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome have combined for 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in the last 10 games. And Jonathan Toews has nine points (three goals, six assists) in November after having only two points (one goal, one assist) in October.

There's a newfound confidence within the group, especially the top players, and reuniting the five of them could translate into power play success. 

And while we're on the subject: It's also time to put Kirby Dach on one of the two power play units.

He has seven points in a five-game point streak and four goals during that span. He's noticeably getting more and more comfortable each game and it's reached the point where giving him more responsibility wouldn't be overwhelming for the 18-year-old, who's ready for more ice time.

The Blackhawks' power play is the one area of their game that hasn't been consistent this season. If they can get it back to the level it was at during the second half of last season, it's scary to think what the ceiling of this team could be because it doesn't look like their 5-on-5 game or elite goaltending will drop off anytime soon.

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Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

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USA Today

Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

The Blackhawks have acquired forward Joseph Cramarossa from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Graham Knott in a minor league trade. Cramarossa will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 27-year-old had three points (two goals, one assist) in nine games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this AHL season. Cramarossa was the alternate captain during the 2018-19 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, playing 56 regular-season games, scoring four goals.

Cramarossa was initially drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2011 NHL Draft, making his NHL debut on the Ducks in 2016. He played with the Ducks until he was traded to the Vancouver in 2017, playing in 10 games for the Canucks. He signed with Calgary as a free agent in September 2017 before being acquired by the Penguins in February 2018. Throughout seven seasons in the AHL (2013-2019) playing for the Norfolk Admirals, San Diego Gulls, Stockton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Cramarossa recorded 72 points (32G, 40A) in 294 regular-season games.

Graham Knott is a 22-year-old forward selected by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft. Knott had eight goals in 126 career games with the IceHogs. The Blackhawks have now traded their top draft selections from 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2009. Only Dach (2019), Boqvist (2018) and DeBrincat (2016) remain from this decade.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.