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LIVE: Blackhawks trail Panthers 3-2 after 2nd

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LIVE: Blackhawks trail Panthers 3-2 after 2nd

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
10:37 a.m.

Associated Press

(AP) -- The Chicago Blackhawks were on the outside of the Western Conference playoff race less than three weeks ago, but an eight-game winning streak has them among the conference's top four.

The Blackhawks look to continue their push Tuesday night when they visit the Florida Panthers and former general manager Dale Tallon.

Chicago (37-23-6) has surged to fourth place in the crowded West, also moving within six points of Central Division-leading Detroit.
READ: Frolik settling in, feeling comfortable with Hawks
Before this streak began, the Blackhawks were tied for 11th place in the conference, four points behind four teams that were tied for the final three playoff spots. They've cut eight points off their deficit in the division.

Jonathan Toews has been a big part of the turnaround. He extended his point streak to nine games in a 5-3 win at Toronto on Saturday, scoring his seventh goal in the last five games. Marian Hossa also scored, giving him six goals in seven games.

They aren't the only ones who have been hot recently. The Blackhawks have scored 16 goals in the last three games, with seven coming in the first period.

"We have an expectation to win and get the two points and I think it's showing in the way we're starting games," defenseman Duncan Keith said.

Keith suffered a finger injury in the latest win after he was hit by a shot early in the third period, but the Blackhawks expect him to play Tuesday.

As Chicago tries to extend its winning streak to nine games for the first time since Dec. 7-28, 2008, it will do so against Tallon's Panthers (26-31-9). Tallon was one of the architects of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-winning team, but he was demoted from general manager to senior adviser in 2009.

Florida hired him last May to help turn things around for their struggling franchise. Despite not being with Chicago during last season's playoffs, Tallon still received a championship ring.
READ: Blackhawks lighting up the scoreboard

While one of Tallon's immediate goals was getting Florida into the playoffs for the first time since 2000, it doesn't appear that will happen this season. The Panthers are in 13th place in the East and have lost five straight, including the last two in overtime.

They fell 3-2 to Washington on Sunday after giving up the tying goal with 2:36 remaining in the third period. The Capitals scored 48 seconds into overtime. The defeat came one night after giving up the winning score to Atlanta 25 seconds into the extra session.

"I thought we kind of stayed with (the Capitals) and looked them in the eye and didn't back down," Florida center Marty Reasoner said. "I think we can be proud of that. Obviously, it seems like we're (seeing) too many times where you try to find the positives in losses. With a young group, we're focused on our effort and how we're playing the system. For the most part, we did that and a bounce here or there and both nights we could have come out with wins."

Chicago took three of a possible four points in the two games against Florida last season in Helsinki, Finland. Patrick Kane, who has two goals and six assists his last seven games, recorded four points in that series.

This will be the first game for forward Michael Frolik against the Panthers since they traded him to the Blackhawks in a five-player deal Feb. 9.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Lucas Carlsson out to prove he belongs with Blackhawks

Lucas Carlsson out to prove he belongs with Blackhawks

DALLAS — The Blackhawks have gotten extended looks this season at two of their coveted defensemen prospects in Adam Boqvist and Dennis Gilbert, the latter of whom is better known for his defensive game than offensive prowess. 

On Sunday, it was Lucas Carlsson's turn.

With Erik Gustafsson being held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons ahead of Monday's trade deadline, the Blackhawks called up Carlsson for their four-game road trip that kicked off in Dallas. They wasted no time in throwing their 2016 fourth-round pick into action despite having no practice session or a morning skate for him to get acclimated to the group.

"Maybe it's easier for me to just get right into it, I don't know," a smiling Carlsson said following a 2-1 loss to the Stars. "It was fun, obviously. I was a bit nervous at the start, but I think I got into it pretty quickly. I just try and play my game, don't change anything. Obviously you have to adjust a little bit, everything's much faster here, so it's good."

Head coach Jeremy Colliton said before the game he wanted Carlsson to be clean with the puck, have a tight gap and be physical when he needed to. And Carlsson did exactly that.

The 22-year-old Swedish blue liner had one shot attempt, one blocked shot and three hits in 14:55 of ice time while playing on the second pairing with Connor Murphy. He wasn't too noticeable, but that's not intended to sound negative. He kept it simple, played his game and didn't make any glaring mistakes in his NHL debut.

"I thought he was good," Colliton said. "He was assertive, physical, made plays, skated the puck. He did well for himself, so [I'm] happy for him in his first game."

The one noticeable offensive play Carlsson did make came in the third period when he delivered a nifty backhand pass between his legs in the slot to Dominik Kubalik, who looked surprised it even got to him. It nearly created a prime scoring chance, but the puck got away from Kubalik.

Carlsson clearly wasn't lacking confidence, which is always a good thing as younger players tend to play timid while they try figuring out the league. He's a sound defender with some offensive upside — he led all Rockford IceHogs defensemen in goals (five), assists (21) and points (26) — and is out to prove he belongs at the NHL level.

"Of course," Carlsson said. "I still have one more year on my contract, so I want to show what I can do and hopefully play a few more games here and see what happens."

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Will Brandon Saad be traded by Blackhawks again? He hopes not

Will Brandon Saad be traded by Blackhawks again? He hopes not

DALLAS — Brandon Saad knows what it’s like to be traded. He’s been moved twice in his NHL career — once from Chicago to Columbus and then again from Columbus to Chicago. Both of those deals were made in the summer, though, and they were also unexpected.

With the NHL trade deadline on Monday at 2 p.m., Saad knows his name is out there and admitted the possibility of being dealt is on his mind.

"A little bit," Saad said following a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday. "That's part of the business, right? Love it here in Chicago but it is what it is. You wait for tomorrow and there's always rumors floating, but at the end of the day, you just focus on hockey games and winning here with the Blackhawks and see what happens."

The Blackhawks aren’t necessarily shopping Saad, but they are listening to offers. The return would have to start with at least a first-round pick for the Blackhawks to even consider that possibility, and it’s unclear whether anybody has gotten close to meeting their demands.

What makes Saad an attractive trade piece is the fact he has one year left on his contract after this season at a $6 million cap hit. General managers across the NHL have been reluctant to give up first-round selections for rentals, and it’s hard to blame them. Giving up a king's ransom for pending unrestricted free agents, historically, backfires more often than not.

Jason Zucker, Blake Coleman and, most recently, Ondrej Kase were all moved and fetched first-rounders because they have term left on their contract. Chris Kreider and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, both of whom are at the top of TSN’s trade bait list, have not been traded with less than 20 hours to go until the deadline and you have to wonder how much that has to do with contending teams not being willing to meet the high price tag for a rental.

The Boston Bruins reportedly expressed interest in Saad, but that was before they acquired Kase. The Edmonton Oilers have also checked in, but would they be willing to part ways with their first-rounder? How about the Colorado Avalanche?

GM Stan Bowman's phone line is going to be busy in the coming hours as teams start to put together their final offers, but Saad is hoping he remains with the Blackhawks.

"It's just part of the business, right?" Saad said. "At the end of the day, you're a hockey player, so you're going to play hard for whoever you're with and take it as it comes. The other ones were in the summertime, so I've never dealt with it at the deadline, so that's always a new experience. But hopefully I'm here in Chicago."

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.