Quick Hits: 'Wow factor' shows up in Blackhawks' win over Penguins

Quick Hits: 'Wow factor' shows up in Blackhawks' win over Penguins

See four lines roll. See a player get hurt. See the Blackhawks plug another player into the injured party's slot. See the Blackhawks keep going.

It's been a successful formula lately, and the Blackhawks applied it again to great results in their 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. We'll see how Artem Anisimov (lower body) is on Thursday. Coach Joel Quenneville said the second-line center, who was out after just one shift in the second period, could miss some time.

If that's the case the Blackhawks may have to shuffle some things around but, on first glance on Wednesday, they did fine with the quick fixes they needed to apply immediately.

Now onto the notables.

What Worked: Scott Darling. Corey Crawford felt better on Wednesday and, in a pinch, could have started against the Penguins. But since Darling was 100 percent and not coming off an illness, it was a chance to play him instead. Darling once again did his job, stopping 36 of 37, including a big one on Matt Cullen early in the third period. His performance needed to be good, because Marc-Andre Fleury was pretty good on his end, too.

What Didn’t Work: Evgeni Malkin's defense. At least on one play, when Richard Panik slipped past him en route to scoring what would be the game-winning goal in the second period. Apparently it's a move Panik's practiced. "That was an amazing play. We don’t want to advertise trying that play too often in the offensive zone, but he times that stuff and we see it in practice. In a game it's hard to do; we don't encourage it," Quenneville said with a laugh. "But he has confidence. He had the wow factor tonight."

Star of the game: Patrick Kane. OK, you could put Nick Schmaltz in here, too (look at the plays Schmaltz made to set up Kane's first two goals). But two hat tricks in your last three games are two hat tricks in your last three games. That, and the goal that earned him the hat trick was a no-look stunner.

He Said It: "Whatever he did when he went down to Rockford is incredible. He came back with a whole new edge and a whole new intensity and now you're seeing the results. He's playing to the full capability." Scott Darling on Nick Schmaltz

By the Numbers:

27-0-0 – The Blackhawks' record this season when scoring four or more goals.

5 – Consecutive games in which Schmaltz has a point (two goals, seven assists), including his two primary assists on Patrick Kane's goals on Wednesday night. Since Feb. 8, Schmaltz has at least a point in nine of 10 games.

10 – Points in his last seven games for Richard Panik (five goals, five assists). The seven-game point streak is the longest of Panik's career.

406 – Consecutive sellouts at the United Center.

How Blackhawks are trying to stay positive despite postseason-high 12 iron shots 

How Blackhawks are trying to stay positive despite postseason-high 12 iron shots 

Goal posts apparently aren't kind to the city of Chicago in the playoffs. (Nobody needs a reminder of the double-doink).

So if you hear a ringing sound, you’re not alone. 

The Blackhawks are six games into their postseason run and have hit 12 iron shots so far — 10 off the post, two off the crossbar. Twelve! That’s an average of two per game and a pace of 164 across an 82-game season. For reference, they hit the iron 58 times — 48 off the post, 10 off the crossbar — in 70 games during the regular season.

No team has hit more iron than the Blackhawks (12) since the NHL's 24-team Return to Play tournament started and it's not even close. The next highest? Toronto at six. An incredible gap.

"It's always tough hitting the post," said Drake Caggiula, who's hit one crossbar this postseason. "You’re close to scoring a goal but that’s hockey. It’s all about bounces. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t, you've just got to stick with it. It's just something where you've got to keep shooting the puck and trust that you're going to get your chances and make sure that you try and capitalize. But hitting the post is never a fun feeling unless it's going in the net. We've just got to make sure it doesn’t discourage us."

Here's a list of where each team sits when it comes to iron shots, through Thursday's games:

  • 12: Blackhawks
  • 6: Toronto
  • 5: Boston
  • 4: Calgary, Colorado, Columbus, Montreal, N.Y. Rangers, Vegas
  • 3: Florida, N.Y. Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
  • 2: Carolina, Dallas, Edmonton, Nashville, Tampa Bay, Washington, Winnipeg
  • 1: Vancouver
  • 0: Arizona, Minnesota, St. Louis

The Blackhawks hit five posts in Game 3 against the Edmonton Oilers, but it was easier to swallow because it came in a win. It wasn't so easy in a Game 2 overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.

Patrick Kane, who leads all skaters this postseason with three shots off the post, hit another one with 43 seconds left in the first period on Thursday when the Blackhawks were trailing 2-0. He beat Robin Lehner five-hole, but the puck rang off the pipe and bounced out. 

You could see the frustration in his face:

The Blackhawks did, however, get a nice break on Dominik Kubalik's power-play goal that tied the game at 2-2. His shot went off the inside of the post and in.

But the one that kept Chicago awake is the crossbar shot in overtime. 

Just 1:53 into extra time, Dylan Strome fired a 35-foot wrist shot from the right faceoff circle and rang it off the bottom part of the crossbar. He lifted his hands in the air thinking it was a goal. It was centimeters away from going bar down but bounced out instead.

The Blackhawks are certainly getting their chances. It's challenging to stick with it when the puck luck isn't going your way, but you have to earn your bounces and the Blackhawks must keep pushing through. That's the message.

"We've had our chances," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Sometimes it's like that. The key is, how long can we stick with it? How long can we be persistent when we face adversity? We've faced some adversity here over the first couple games. Do we have the character to overcome it? It's an opportunity for our guys.

"You play all year to be in these games, so now we're here and we've faced some adversity. So what? Just keep playing and believe in what we're doing and believe in the guys in the room and we're going to give them a run."

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Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner remains unbeaten with Vegas Golden Knights

Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner remains unbeaten with Vegas Golden Knights

On Thursday in Game 2, the Blackhawks tested Robin Lehner more than they did in Game 1 of the first round Stanley Cup Playoff series, when he only had to save 19 of 20 shots.

The Hawks were able to put 25 pucks on the Golden Knights' net, with three getting past Lehner to take the game to overtime where Vegas would triumph to take a 2-0 series lead.

"It was a little bit of a weird game," Lehner said following his Game 2 win. "There was not that much to do and I thought they had some good chances. I thought that Chicago played really well. Everyone keeps saying they're (the) underdog, but you look at their team: the experience, the skill... it's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out there. It's a lot of skill and they're world class players, so when they get opportunities it's hard. I got to look at the tape, I think I can be a little bit better, but a win's a win."

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

With the victory, Lehner remains unbeaten in the 2020 postseason (4-0) and unbeaten as a Golden Knight. 

The 29-year-old netminder went 3-0-0 with 1.67 goals-against average and .940 save percentage with the Knights during the regular season ahead of the NHL Pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12. 

Related: Robin Lehner opens up on getting traded by Blackhawks

Lehner was traded from Chicago to Vegas ahead of Feb. 24's trade deadline. He was 16-10-5 as a Hawk this season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage prior to the move.

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champ with the Pittsburgh Penguins, may have lost the starter job to Lehner, at least for now. Fleury was only in net for one Golden Knights' round-robin game, with Lehner starting the rest of the postseason contests so far.

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