LOS ANGELES – Alright, folks, the regular-season show is over. Time for the real entertainment.
We now know that the Blackhawks will host the Nashville Predators, thanks to the Predators late-regulation loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. So much for a new foe in the first round.
But we digress. Before we look too far ahead, we might as well take one last look at the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
What Worked: Artemi Panarin's chase. Well, it's looking like it'll be enough right now, anyway. Panarin jumped for joy, and understandably so, when Patrick Kane fed him for his 31st goal of the season. As of now Panarin is tied for ninth among NHL forwards in scoring. A top-10 finish assures him of collecting bonuses. It was almost the game-winning goal, too, but that went by the wayside.
What Didn't Work: The power play. Yeah we know, it's a running theme and it went 0-for-3 on Saturday. A goal or two maybe changes the outcome but it's Game 82. A struggling power play was an issue heading into last postseason because, outside of that and the second line, the Blackhawks didn't have consistent 5-on-5 scoring. They do this season, so it's not as big a concern heading into these playoffs.
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Star of the game: Jeff Carter. The Los Angeles Kings forward came up short on two shorthanded breakaway opportunities of his own but he was great in setting his teammates up on Saturday. Carter finished with three assists, including the primary helper on Drew Doughty's overtime winner.
He Said It: "When our team plays for keeps, that's what it's all about. We have some young guys; we're looking forward to their contributions as well. But it's a long season to put yourself in this position here and this year it's so wide open, it should make for a great playoff. Let's be ready to meet the challenge." Coach Joel Quenneville on looking forward to the postseason.
By the Numbers:
109 – Points for the Blackhawks this season, the second-most in franchise history. They had a franchise-best 112 in 2009-10.
700 – Games for Joel Quenneville with the Blackhawks. He's now 413-204-83 in his time here.
3 – Blackhawks who played in all 82 games this season: Patrick Kane, Panarin and Richard Panik.
15 – Career goals against the Los Angeles Kings for Jonathan Toews, the most of any of the Blackhawks.