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."

Robin Lehner starting Game 1 for Vegas Golden Knights against Blackhawks Tuesday

Robin Lehner starting Game 1 for Vegas Golden Knights against Blackhawks Tuesday

Ahead of the start of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs' matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer announced former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner will get the start in net for Vegas in Game 1 against his former team. 

The 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist was traded from Chicago to Vegas ahead of Feb. 24's trade deadline. He was 16-10-5 as a Hawk during the 2019-20 regular season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage prior to the move.

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner unveils new pads

Lehner was in net for the Knights' overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in a round-robin contest to help Vegas grab the No. 1 seed in the West for Round One, pitting them against the Blackhawks, who were the No. 12 seed in the qualifying round and were reseeded to be No. 8 for Round One.

Following Saturday's game, Lehner was asked about facing the Blackhawks and his former goalie partner Corey Crawford and if playing with the Hawks earlier this season carries an advantage.

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner's birthday cake is unreal

"I don't know. All I know is it's going to be fun playing them," Lehner said. "They're a very good hockey team and I have a lot of respect for them, the whole organization... but I think I really like it here (with Vegas), we're a great hockey team."

The 29-year-old netminder got off to a hot start with Vegas ahead of the NHL pause on March 12 going 3-0-0 with 1.67 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

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COVID-19 pandemic delays Marian Hossa, Doug Wilson's 2020 Hall of Fame inductions

COVID-19 pandemic delays Marian Hossa, Doug Wilson's 2020 Hall of Fame inductions

On Monday, Lanny McDonald, chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame announced that the 2020 HHOF Induction Weekend is being postponed "until further notice due to continuing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Blackhawks legends Marian Hossa and Doug Wilson, in addition to Jarome Iginla, Kevin Lowe and Kim St-Pierre make up the 2020 HHOF's Player Category, with Ken Holland in the Builder Category.

The 2020 Induction Celebration was previously set for Monday, November 16th in Toronto. 

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The Hall's Board of Directors will address rescheduling plans for the induction when they meet on October 29, 2020.

"While it's possible the class of 2020 could be inducted on alternative dates during the modified 2020-21 NHL season, the most likely scenario is to postpone to November 2021, either by waiving the 2021 elections or in combination with the 2021 induction class involving adjusted category limits," McDonald said in a statement. "Since the magic of the induction from the Honoured Members' perspective is experiencing several days of close interaction with family, friends, former teammates and fans, the Board ruled out any means of holding the 2020 inductions virtually."