Patrick Kane, Blackhawks force Game 6 with double OT win

Patrick Kane, Blackhawks force Game 6 with double OT win

ST. LOUIS – Corey Crawford could see from the other side of the ice that Patrick Kane had a chance to win it, the loose puck near St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott.

“Felt like that puck was sitting in the crease for like 20 seconds,” Crawford said with a smile afterward.

But somewhere within the 20 seconds it felt like, Kane was once again knocking home a playoff game-winner.

Kane’s wraparound came 3:07 into the second overtime and Crawford stopped 43 of 46 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-3 on Thursday night. The Blackhawks stave off elimination and will host Game 6 at 7 p.m. on Saturday. It wasn’t the tidiest postseason victory for the Blackhawks – they went up 3-1 at the end of two periods, only to watch the Blues come back and tie it 3-3 and force overtime. But they’ll take it.

“I don’t know if that’s the way we drew it up. It would have been nice to hang onto that lead. But what can you do? Kaner came through,” said Duncan Keith, who played 42 minutes on Thursday. “I thought they probably carried a lot of the play in the first overtime. But it just matters that we got the goal.”

Kane got that goal, his first of the postseason, on a second effort. Blues goaltender Brian Elliott got part of Kane’s first shot and the puck slid through the blue paint. But with Elliott out of position, Kane came from behind the net for the wraparound winner.

Yes, the Blues were the dominant team in the first overtime. They kept the momentum they built in the third period and fired 11 shots on Crawford, who stopped them all.

“I think before that overtime I was trying to tell myself to play with confidence and I wasn’t very good the first four periods, had a couple good shifts there, had a couple chances, almost banged a couple away there,” Kane said. “The first wraparound, Hammer had a good chance and Pans made a great pass to me there in the slot, tried to make a move, get something on the net. I was fortunate enough to see it squeak over to the side there and try to jam it in.”

The Blackhawks were feeling more comfortable after the second period, when Artemi Panarin had a goal – which came with 0.4 seconds remaining in the period – and an assist, and Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa (shorthanded) also scored. But that was all erased in the third period by the Blues, who had come back to win Game 4 and looked ready to do the same in Game 5. Robby Fabbri scored about seven minutes into the third and David Backes redirected an Alex Pietrangelo shot to tie it 3-3 with five minutes remaining in regulation.

But the Blackhawks didn’t buckle and Crawford’s work in the first overtime gave them a chance in the second.

“We just keep playing the game. Don’t really try to think about too much,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “It’s an elimination game. We all know it in the back of our heads but all we can do is to give a great effort and play our heart out. I think we did a good job of that today.”

The Blackhawks found a way to extend thisseries. They’ll try to do that again on Saturday night. That puck seemed to sit near Elliott for a while but the Blackhawks’ wait once again ended with a big goal from Kane.

“Yeah, everyone’s been playing well all series,” Crawford said. “Chances are hard to come by, you have to fight for them, and that’s what our guys did.”

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks


Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

COLUMBUS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday:

1. Corey Crawford steals the show

The Blackhawks had no business winning this game. They were being outshot 28-15 through two periods, committed four penalties and gave up 18 high-danger chances in the game. 

But Crawford bailed out his team like he often has done in the past, and was zoned in from the moment the puck dropped. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .974, picking up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017.

"Yeah, I felt good," Crawford said. "I think everyone was playing hard, rebounds, taking away sticks. That was a great effort by everyone."

"He was standing on his head for us," Patrick Kane said. "As Q would say, that’s a goalie win for us."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was vintage Crow."

2. Tic-tac-toe leads to go-ahead goal

The Blue Jackets were clearly the better team through two periods. The Blackhawks were fortunate to go into second intermission with the game still tied at 1-1.

The next goal was crucial, and they got it thanks to a Marcus Kruger redirection goal. The next one was the dagger, a beautiful give-and-go play by Brent Seabrook and Kane, who buried home a wide open net to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead with 4:14 left in regulation.

Was Kane expecting Seabrook to pass it back?

"No. Not a chance," Kane said laughing. "That’s his wheelhouse, coming right down there. He scores a lot of goals from that area. Saw it was like a 2-on-2, he was coming late, he jumped in the play on the first goal, did a great job, jumped in the play on that goal. Made a great pass. When I saw it come back, I just tried to stay patient, settle it down and make sure I hit the net, because I knew I had the whole open net."

3. Busy night for PK

The Blackhawks penalty kill was very busy. It was also on it's A-game, partly because their best penalty killer was Crawford.

The Blackhawks spent 6:31 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, allowing 11 shots total on it. But most importantly, they killed off all four penalties.

"We had some tough clears, but I thought we did some good things," Quenneville said. "We withstood some extended PK zone time there and found a way to keep us in the game. Obviously that next goal was huge and that second period was a big part of them having so much zone time, keeping us in our end. We'll say, hey good job, but Crow was the best penalty killer tonight."

4. Catching up with Kane on Artemi Panarin

Kane and Panarin spent only two seasons together, but they brought Blackhawks fans out of their seats on a nightly basis and it was amazing to watch the instant on-ice chemistry they shared. And most of it was non-verbal, which made it even more impressive. They were always on the same wavelength.

"Sometimes it takes time to build some chemistry but that was one of those things where it was like, I don't want to say instant chemistry, but after one or two preseason games we kind of new that maybe something special was going to happen," Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think he scored in his first game in the NHL, we had a really good game, we had the puck a lot, we sensed that this could be a fun way to play hockey."

Off the ice, Kane said Panarin would use Google translate on his phone to communicate while Kane would try using a Russian accent while saying English words.

The two of them got a chance to hang out for a little bit on Friday and Kane still keeps tabs on his former linemate.

"I always really enjoy watching him," Kane said. "If we have an off night or something, he's a really fun player to watch."

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade


Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

COLUMBUS — The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets blockbuster trade from the 2017 offseason is always a hot topic in Chicago when things aren't going great. It especially is when the two teams square off against each other, like Saturday at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season.

If it wasn't already apparent in Chicago, Artemi Panarin has emerged as a real NHL superstar and is set for a giant payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He set a Blue Jackets record with 82 points in a single season and has nine points (three goals, six assists) through six games this season.

Brandon Saad, on the other hand, had a challenging first year back with the Blackhawks in 2017-18 after netting only 35 points in 82 games and is off to a slow start this year as well with zero goals and two assists through six games. After a demotion to the fourth line, he was close to being a healthy scratch on Thursday, which only magnifies where things are at as the two get ready to clash.

But Saad was never going to be able to replace Panarin's offensive production. Everybody knows that. Yet, the offensive comparisons will always be there as a barometer and that's something Saad doesn't think about, no matter how much fans talk about it.

"I don't think I do it," he said. "We're different players. He's a great player. Fans are going to do whatever comparisons they want, but at the end of the day you've got to be true to yourself and do what you bring to the table. He's a great player around the league. You can see his highlights and his goals, he's definitely a special player. But at the end of the day I've got confidence in my abilities too. We both bring different attributes, but they're going to make comparisons regardless."

A big reason why the Blackhawks reacquired Saad, other than his ability to play a 200-foot game, is because he carries a $6 million cap hit through 2020-21, which is two years more than Panarin at the same cap hit. (It's also important to note that the Blackhawks hoped they were getting a reliable, young backup goaltender in Anton Forsberg, but the injury to Corey Crawford thrust him into a role he wasn't exactly prepared for.)

It's not all rainbows for Columbus right now regarding where things stand with Panarin, who has made it clear he's not ready to sign a long-term extension. All signs point to the 26-year-old winger hitting the market, putting the Blue Jackets in a tricky situation ahead of the trade deadline. The Blackhawks very well could have found themselves in this position, too, had a deal not been made.

Both sides are dealing with their own challenges of the trade. Saad is still a key piece to the Blackhawks' puzzle and they're hoping to get more out of him, for no other reason than the team's overall success.

"You want to have success regardless of who you're playing for, who you're traded for, things like that," Saad said. "Naturally, just as competitors, you want to bring that excitement and you want to have success with the team and personally."