Blackhawks

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Soups on — Brian Campbell on his career with the Blackhawks and what’s next

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Soups on — Brian Campbell on his career with the Blackhawks and what’s next

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle talks to former Blackhawks Stanley Cup Champion, Brian Campbell.

They discuss his “One Last Shift” at the United Center this week, the rocky relationship he had with Joel Quenneville in year one and when he knew he was out of Q’s doghouse.

Campbell tells us the moment in 2010 when he knew the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. He also talks about the injury he received from Alex Ovechkin and his return to the line-up in the middle of the Nashville series.

Soupy tells us about his work with defenseman, such as Adam Boqvist, and how the Blackhawks tweaked defensive zone system has helped the team in recent weeks.

0:30 - What was “One more shift” like?

1:30 - What did your daughters Harper & Everly think about “One More Shift”?

3:00 - Back in 2008, how many teams did it come down to before you decided on Hawks?

4:45 - Taking less term in Chicago

6:00 - Rough start with Joel Quenneville

7:30 - When Campbell knew he was out of Q’s dog house

9:00 - Hossa’s debut signals Cup Contender

10:00 - Campbell injury from Ovechkin

11:00 - Return in Nashville series

12:30 - Soupy meets future wife

13:30 - Sweet Home Chicago

15:00 - Current role with Hawks

16:30 - Working with Adam Boqvist & Nicholas Beaudin

20:30 - Is Gustafsson back?

22:30 - Tweaked DZ coverage scheme

24:00 - “Soup and a Sandwich”

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Blackhawks not worried about falling into regression: 'We know what we can do'

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks not worried about falling into regression: 'We know what we can do'

After stringing together four consecutive victories and picking up at least a point in eight of nine games, the Blackhawks have dropped back-to-back contests in regulation for the first time since Oct. 24-26. But there's no panic in the locker room.

The Blackhawks are encouraged with their overall progression since the calendar flipped to November and won't let consecutive losses convince themselves they're taking steps backwards after making up ground over the last several weeks.

"I don't think we've lost the momentum," Jonathan Toews said following a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. "I think we know what we can do, we just got to get our legs going and get four lines rolling again. Be back on the road this weekend, so back to that same mentality of playing simple hockey. Last couple road games we had four lines contributing and a lot of pucks going in, so try and get back to that same style."

The Blackhawks didn't like the way they played in the first two periods against Carolina on Tuesday, and rightfully so. They were outplayed in every facet, but threw the kitchen sink at the Hurricanes in the third period and made it close, which showed yet again that they're never out of a game when they play an up-tempo style of hockey.

The Blackhawks didn't necessarily come out flat on Thursday against Tampa Bay, but they also didn't capitalize on their chances until the third period and made it difficult on themselves to build a lead early in the game. They outshot the Lightning 12-4 in the final frame after being outshot 23-16 in the first two periods, but the Lightning scored three times in the final 10:16 while the Blackhawks scored only twice.

"We did some good things tonight," Patrick Kane said. "Obviously would have been nice to get some points here in the last two games, but yeah, we gotta keep playing the way we won all those games and went on the nice stretch with. Stay with it. We know the recipe for success and keep building."

Whether they're at their best or not, the Blackhawks recognize how important it is to pick up points and want to make sure they're doing everything they can to stay in the thick of the playoff race, especially with five straight divisional games on the horizon.

"Obviously, these two last home games weren't our best games," Dylan Strome said. "We had a push in each game but I don't think it was good enough. Got to find a way to battle for 60 minutes. Four straight divisional games coming up so important time in the standings and we got some time between games. It's time to find a way to pick up some points in the division here."

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