Marian Hossa scores game-winner as Blackhawks outlast Devils in OT

Marian Hossa scores game-winner as Blackhawks outlast Devils in OT

It was another first period in which the shots weren’t really there.

The Blackhawks have talked about shooting more, talked about getting away from waiting for the perfect opportunity to open up, but it was still absent through the first 20 minutes on Thursday night.

They turned talk into action by the second period.

Artem Anisimov scored his 10th goal of the season and Marian Hossa had the overtime winner as the Blackhawks beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Thursday night. The Blackhawks are now 3-0-1 without Jonathan Toews, who missed his fourth consecutive game with that upper-body injury sustained against the San Jose Sharks last week. Toews, as of Thursday morning, was also doubtful for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia.

“When they’re ready to play, they’re ready to play,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Every player’s different but they’ll tell you when it’s time and you know when they’re able and ready to go. But we wouldn’t put anybody out there who isn’t ready. In Jonny’s case we’ll make sure he’s clear – in a lot of ways.”

Corey Crawford stopped 30 of 33 shots for the victory. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marcus Kruger each scored for the Blackhawks and Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith each had two assists.

The Blackhawks’ second period was more of what they’ve been looking for this season, especially lately: just shooting, driving the net and seeing what comes out of it. On Thursday three goals came out of it.

“Yeah, we talked about going into the game that lately we need more of a net-front presence and have to put more pucks at the net,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought we were much better in the second period, much better in the last half of the first period to get ourselves in the game. Crow made some big saves early, really kept them in our end there the first 5-10 minutes when were were in a lot of trouble. We got our game going and we were much more effective the rest of the way. But you don’t score in this league when the goalies see the pucks.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Devils goaltender Cory Schneider wasn’t seeing any pucks in the first few minutes of the first period. The Blackhawks were too busy trying to defend and clear against an energetic group of Devils, and they weren’t succeeding at it. The fact that the Devils only got one goal in those frantic early minutes – the first of Travis Zajac’s three on the night – was a credit to how good Crawford was again.

“Yeah. It was a rough start. I think they came out flying, played really good hockey and we were kind of standing on our heels a little bit,” Hjalmarsson said. “Crow kept us in the game and then I think we kind of started to grow and play better and better. As we’ve been doing as of late, we found a way to get it to overtime and get two important points.”

Yes, they did, and rather quickly. Kruger scored just 62 seconds into the second period, with Anisimov and Hjalmarsson adding their goals later. Hjalmarsson’s came not long after a bad turnover at the other end led to Zajac’s second goal of the night.

“I definitely owed the team that,” Hjalmarsson said. “That was a bad giveaway.”

After Zajac’s third forced overtime, it didn’t seem to be a surprise that Hossa had the final say once again. His 12th goal of the season was also his fourth game winner this season.

“[Patrick Kane] took the puck and just gave it to me at the blue line. I tried to hold, see my options and I didn’t see anything and I tried to shoot through the screen,” Hossa said. “I don’t think the goalie saw much. It wasn’t a hard shot, but I think I just tried to shoot it at the net.”

The Blackhawks found a way once again. With Toews out, it’s all about getting points any way possible. One way or another they’re doing it, and on Thursday, getting more pucks to the net was beneficial.

“During the intermission we [talked about] putting pucks on the net because we know there's a good goalie on the other side,” Kruger said. “I think we did a good job, from that being in traffic and putting pucks on net.”

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Adam Boqvist

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 168 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Boqvist is a finesse defenseman who is very skilled, possesses excellent vision and tons of talent. He is fun to watch and full of surprises on the ice. He often plays bigger than his size and skated in his first games with Sweden's Senior National Team in April."

NHL player comparable: Erik Karlsson

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would love to have Karlsson, who is probably being traded out of Ottawa this summer. Every team would love to have him. But that's not realistic for Chicago. So what if they drafted his potential mini me?

Boqvist is electric with the puck and has drawn comparisons to the Swedish defenseman as a best-case scenario.

There are two concerns, though. One is that he may need some time to develop at just 17 years old and his defense a work in progress. The second is that he's sustained head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds a little bit of risk to the equation.

If he can stay healthy and his development isn't rushed, there's major upside here. But are the Blackhawks willing to be patient? We're not so sure.

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?


Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

Here's an interesting development as we approach the NHL Draft: Artemi Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets that he's not ready to consider an extension "at this time" and because of that, Columbus is testing the market for the Russian winger, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded to the report shortly after in a statement released by the team:

"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”

Ironically, Panarin was traded to Columbus on the afternoon of last year's draft as part of a blockbuster package that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. It shook up the hockey world, and has the potential to do so again.

Panarin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but is free to sign an extension with Columbus on July 1. Clearly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now and it's why the Blue Jackets have to put out feelers. They can't risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side, Panarin has every right to test the open market. He has one year left on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. He's due for a hefty raise, will be 27 years old next summer — the prime of his hockey career — and will certainly be looking for a long-term deal after accepting a bridge contract with the Blackhawks.

Speaking of whom, should his former team explore bringing him back to Chicago now that he's on the market?

Every general manager should and will do their due diligence and call for an asking price, Stan Bowman included. Those conversations might start with Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, and if that's the case, you say thanks but no thanks and move on. 

The Blackhawks have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks in this year's draft as possible ammunition, but the Blue Jackets are ready to take that next step. They were up 2-0 in their first-round series before losing four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It's unlikely they'd be looking to center a potential deal around draft picks. 

The only way you even consider it from the Blackhawks perspective is if Panarin is guaranteed to sign a long-term extension at a price you're comfortable with, but that's one of the main reasons why they traded him in the first place. 

To cap it all off, trading for Panarin wouldn't even address the Blackhawks' biggest need and that's a Top 4 defenseman. Those don't grow on trees. The Blackhawks will have the cap space to sign a player like James van Riemsdyk to patch up their top 6. You can't say the same for the free-agent blue line group.

So while it may certainly be fun for Blackhawks fans to come up with possible trade scenarios to get Panarin back in an Indianhead sweater, it just doesn't make great sense for a variety of reasons.