Blackhawks

LIVE: Sharp scores No. 34, Hawks trail 3-2

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LIVE: Sharp scores No. 34, Hawks trail 3-2

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
11:15 a.m.

Associated Press
An end to the Chicago Blackhawks' longest winning streak of the season slowed their pursuit of the lead in the Central Division.

A season-worst skid to start this month has cost the Tampa Bay Lightning their place atop the Southeast.

After their first loss in nine games, the Blackhawks will try to get back on track with their 11th win in 14 games against the Lightning on Wednesday night.

Chicago (37-24-6) was one win shy of matching the longest streak in franchise history, and six points behind Detroit in the Central heading into Tuesday's game against Florida.

The Blackhawks couldn't take advantage of the last-place Panthers, and had their eight-game run snapped as they gave up three first-period goals in a 3-2 loss.

Corey Crawford, who was making his 12th consecutive start in goal, was pulled after the opening 20 minutes, and Marty Turco was barely challenged in relief. Chicago got within one as Marian Hossa extended his point streak to eight games, but it couldn't find the equalizer despite a 29-7 shots advantage over the final two periods.

"I've been around a while and I don't know if I've ever seen a bigger lesson to be learned than I did tonight," Turco said. "Whatever it is we thought to ourselves or did, changed after one period. It was one heck of a wake-up call.

"The way we played (the last two periods) was unreal, but sometimes it's disappointing. Why can't we play like that all the time?"

A night earlier, the Lightning were left scratching their heads for a different reason. They couldn't figure out Washington rookie goaltender Braden Holtby in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Capitals, who now lead the Southeast.

Sean Bergenheim scored in the first period and Tampa Bay (37-21-8) stayed there for much of the game thanks to a strong effort from Dwayne Roloson in net. The Lightning, though, gave up the tying goal with 5:32 remaining in regulation, and couldn't get any of their three shots past Holtby in the tiebreaker.

Tampa Bay also had some bad luck as Vincent Lecavalier's third-period goal was disallowed due to goaltender interference.

The fourth straight defeat pushed the Lightning two points behind the Capitals in the division. Tampa Bay's 0-3-1 slump is its longest since a five-game skid last March 14-21.

"It's been a tough week, week and a half. That's why we have to battle and persist," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "It's easy to persist when things go easy. Now, they're just not turning our way."

Recent games against Chicago usually haven't gone Tampa Bay's way either as it's 2-9-1 with two ties in the last 14 matchups. The Blackhawks have outscored the Lightning 14-4 in the last three, including last season's 4-0 win at the United Center.

Jonathan Toews, who had a nine-game point streak snapped Tuesday, has registered four goals and an assist in those games. Patrick Kane, who is on a six-game point streak, has contributed two goals and five assists.

The Blackhawks are 3-0-1 with one tie in their last five trips to the St. Pete Times Forum.

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

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”