Blackhawks

Patrick Kane notches another hat trick as Blackhawks beat Penguins

Patrick Kane notches another hat trick as Blackhawks beat Penguins

If you've watched the Blackhawks for any amount of time the last few seasons you've recognized their love of two things: the four-line rotation (well, that's any team, really) and their love of versatile players who they can plug in various spots. On Wednesday night the latter part of that equation loomed large.

Patrick Kane scored his second hat trick in his last three games and Scott Darling stopped 36 of 37 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks have now won 10 of their last 11 games and are three points behind the Minnesota Wild, who were idle tonight.

Richard Panik scored his 17th goal of the season on a memorable move around Evgeni Malkin. Kane completed his hat trick with a no-look backhand into the empty net with 41 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Blackhawks suffered another injury, however, as Artem Anisimov left early in the second period with a lower-body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said Anisimov could miss some time – "a little bit of time, not a lot of time." Asked if that meant Anisimov was out a week or two, Quenneville said he and the team would know more on Thursday.

And that brings us back to the versatility, which in particular served Nick Schmaltz very well on Wednesday. When Anisimov left Schmaltz took over the second-line center spot and didn't miss a beat. From his takeaway that led to Kane's first goal to his pass that led to Kane's second, Schmaltz took advantage of the opportunity. Quenneville said Schmaltz could end up in that spot if Anisimov misses some time.

"He gives us some options but tonight fitting in that hole where Arty was, we didn't know it was going to be like that but I like how he took advantage of it," Quenneville said.

Meanwhile, Darling, who played to give an ailing Corey Crawford another day to rest, was outstanding. The Blackhawks scored twice in the third but were outshot 13-6, and Darling denied the Penguins on every chance. Only Scott Wilson's slick, lifted backhand eluded him; officials needed replay to show Wilson, indeed, scored. Darling's biggest stop came on Matt Cullen, who was denied after taking a great pass from Sidney Crosby.

"It was a great play by them. It's more reflexes and just kind of being a goalie," Darling said. "[You're] just trying to get in the right position as quickly as you can. Lucky I got a glove on it."

Very little about the Blackhawks' game lately has been about luck. They're back to playing their team game, back to getting that great rotation, back to utilizing guys in must-need situations.

"We were trying all season to figure out the lines and manage it. Now we've found it," Panik said. "It's been really good for the team."

Blackhawks remember Dave Bolland for more than just '17 Seconds'

Blackhawks remember Dave Bolland for more than just '17 Seconds'

The Blackhawks are honoring one of their own on Friday, with Dave Bolland set to skate “One More Shift” with the organization. He will join the team on the ice during the anthem, and will be featured throughout the game commemorating his time in Chicago.

When you think of Bolland, the first thing that pops up into the minds of fans is his game-winning goal in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins. Or, better known as the second goal of "17 Seconds."

But his former teammates remember him for more than that.

"He was awesome," Patrick Kane said. "He was one of those guys who played a third-line role for like his whole time here and just really did well with it. I remember the line with him, [Martin] Havlat and [Andrew] Ladd really took off in 2009 and obviously [Dustin] Byfuglien, him and [Kris] Versteeg were a good line in 2010. But just the way he played, he got underneath the other team's skin, especially their star players. Wasn't afraid to chirp, wasn't afraid to get into the mix, especially with his size and the way he was built.

"But yeah, some great moments, some big goals, a lot of big shorthanded goals, you can obviously remember his 17 seconds was unbelievable as well, that's a goal I'm sure he'll never forget. We'll never forget that celebration too, so it's awesome he's getting honored."

Bolland, who earned the nickname "The Rat," is perhaps best known for the role he played in the Blackhawks' playoff series battles with the Vancouver Canucks. His line frequently drew the defensive matchups against Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and he's the one player who really knew how to throw both twins off their game at the same time.

"I think he's kind of like Shawzy," Jonathan Toews said. "He's one of those guys that fans here in Chicago really like. Aside from scoring goals and the plays that he made over the years in the playoffs, he was one of those guys that you loved having on your team that other teams hated. He found ways to chip away at their best players and get them off their game. He was good at a lot of little things like that, so he was a big part of those winning teams."

Andrew Shaw was teammates with Bolland for only two seasons, but they won a Stanley Cup together and Bolland was one of the best and knowing his role and perfecting it.

"One of the best at his job," Shaw said. "He played that shutdown centerman. I always thought he had the shortest shifts. His shift lengths were so short just 'cause he would play so much against top guys that he'd want to be so well-rested while he was out there. ... He was skilled enough to chip in offensively as well.

"That's the type of player he was. He'd play against the top guys, he'd shut them down, he'd be that little rat himself, just try to get them off their game as well as outworking them."

Bolland spent seven of his 10 NHL seasons in Chicago, where he registered 168 points (70 goals, 98 assists) in 332 games. He was drafted by the Blackhawks in the second round (No. 32 overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft.

Friday will mark the first night honoring the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship, which ended a 49-year drought in franchise history. The first 10,000 fans on Friday will receive a Marian Hossa bobblehead.

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Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets

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USA Today

Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets

Robin Lehner will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after morning skate. It will be his second start of the season.

In his season debut against the Winnipeg Jets, Lehner stopped 30 of 33 shots for a save percentage of .909 in a 3-2 overtime loss. He gave up a 5-on-5 goal, power-play goal and overtime goal at 3-on-3. Overall, he was solid.

"Everyone wants to play all the time," Colliton said of the dynamic between Corey Crawford and Lehner. "Whether it's a goalie, forward or D, they play better when they play more. That's just the standard answer. But we've had a little bit of a lighter schedule. We're trying to make ... we want both guys going because we're coming up on a stretch where we're playing a lot of games, so we're going to need them both."

Lehner is 5-3-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout in eight career appearances against the Blue Jackets. 

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