Blackhawks

Ryan Hartman gets another shot at center when Blackhawks take on Stars

Ryan Hartman gets another shot at center when Blackhawks take on Stars

Ryan Hartman isn't a total stranger to center.

He played more of it in his Plymouth Whalers (OHL) days but also got some center shifts in with the Rockford IceHogs. That's where he'd also get some faceoffs, especially if another center had, or was coming off of, a wrist injury.

His return there Tuesday night wasn't so shabby, either, as he moved to the second-line center spot when the Blackhawks were looking for a boost. So it's no surprise that he'll be back there again on Thursday night when the Blackhawks play hosts to the Dallas Stars.

Hartman admits he was a little surprised when he was put in that spot in the Blackhawks' overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. But with this team you have to expect anything, and Hartman was happy to join Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane.

"You never know at a certain time of the game what's going to happen. But it went well," Hartman said. "Playing with those two guys is fun, and they're two special players. They make it easy on you, keeping the puck and making plays. It's exciting to play with those two guys."

Hartman did get some post-skate faceoff work in on Thursday. He said he'll do some video work as well.

"They put up video before games of tendencies of every center. I've just gotta watch that close before tonight's game so I know what some of their habits are and what centers I'll be lined up against," he said.

Hartman playing second-line center gives the Blackhawks another option in Artem Anisimov's injury absence. Coach Joel Quenneville said, depending on how things go, that Hartman could be considered to center the third or fourth line in the future.

"I liked him there, and the way he plays with those two guys, you can have a net presence and disruption around the net and a lot of action with those guys in that area. He has a quick stick and maybe there's some production there and it gives us some options of using him in the middle in other spots as well going forward," Quenneville said. "For a period there I thought he did a real nice job. We'll see how it works out. It looked all right today in practice. It's one more option, which we like."

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CSN has complete coverage of Thursday night's game between the Blackhawks and Stars, starting with Blackhawks Pregame Live at 7 p.m., followed by puck drop from the United Center at 7:30 p.m. You can catch all the action on CSN or streaming live here on CSNChicago.com or on the NBC Sports app.

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

John Hayden-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
​Artemi Panarin-Ryan Hartman-Patrick Kane
Nick Schmaltz-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Dennis Rasmussen-Tanner Kero-Jordin Tootoo

​Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

​Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries/illness: Artem Anisimov (left leg)

Dallas Stars

Forward lines

Jamie Benn-Cody Eakin-Ales Hemsky
​Remi Elie-Tyler Seguin-Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore-Radek Faksa-Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie-Adam Cracknell-Jiri Hudler

​Defensive pairs

Esa Lindell-John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis-Greg Pateryn
​Patrik Nemeth-Jamie Oleksiak

​Goaltender

Kari Lehtonen

Injuries/illness: Mattias Janmark (knee), Antoine Roussel (hand), Jason Spezza (back)

After snapping 12-game goal drought, Alex DeBrincat hoping 'I can get hot again'

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AP

After snapping 12-game goal drought, Alex DeBrincat hoping 'I can get hot again'

BOSTON — Alex DeBrincat isn't used to going through long stretches without scoring a goal. He found the back of the net 41 times last season, which was tied for sixth amongst all skaters.

But the offense hasn't come as naturally for him this season. 

While he's dishing out assists at a career-high rate (0.50 per game), DeBrincat had only five goals through 27 games going into Thursday and was on pace to finish the season with 15. The longest goal drought of his NHL career is 13 games, which came during his rookie season, and he was on the verge of tying that mark.

But after breaking through in the third period of Thursday's 4-3 overtime win over the Boston Bruins, DeBrincat ended a 12-game drought for his first goal since Nov. 7. And he's hoping it will open the floodgates.

"It was a long time between goals," DeBrincat said. "But hopefully I can get hot again and keep going."

DeBrincat didn't show it, but the frustration was brewing inside. In Saturday's 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche he couldn't convert on an open backdoor chance and took out his anger on Samuel Girard by picking a fight with the 5-foot-10, 170-pound defenseman.

DeBrincat is a goal scorer and he wasn't scoring. With the monkey off his back, perhaps this could propel his offensive production.

"He's been playing well, getting chances," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "They just haven't gone in for him. Hopefully this is the little boost that he needs."

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Blackhawks pick up marquee overtime win in Boston, but will it serve as jump-start to something bigger?

blackhawks_toews.jpg
USA Today

Blackhawks pick up marquee overtime win in Boston, but will it serve as jump-start to something bigger?

BOSTON — The Blackhawks knew Thursday's matchup against the Boston Bruins was going to be a serious test. They had lost three in a row (0-3-0) and six of their past seven games (1-5-1) and were running into a Bruins team that was aiming for their ninth consecutive win.

To make things more challenging, the Blackhawks were without Duncan Keith (groin) for the fourth straight game, Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol) for the second time and Olli Maatta (flu-like symptoms). It was going to be a measuring stick kind of game for the Blackhawks against the reigning Eastern Conference champions, especially after getting blown out 4-0 to the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in their previous outing.

The Blackhawks were slightly the better team through the first 40 minutes, capitalizing on a couple of chances and killing off four penalties against the NHL's second-ranked power play unit to take a 2-0 lead into the second intermission. But you knew the Bruins, who had yet to lose in regulation at home this season (12-0-4), were going to push back hard in their own building and they did.

After Alex DeBrincat scored 17 seconds — how fitting? — into the third period to make it 3-0, the Bruins responded 1:32 later and that's when the ride turned in a hurry.

The Bruins peppered the Blackhawks with 11 even-strength scoring chances in the third period, according to Natural Stat Trick, after having 12 in the first two periods combined and scored three straight to force overtime. Chris Wagner took advantage of an Erik Gustafsson tire blowout on a 2-on-1 opportunity by scoring a shorthanded goal to cut the Blackhawks' lead to 3-2 with 4:59 left in regulation and Torey Krug tied it up at 3-3 just 2:26 later.

But Jonathan Toews salvaged the second point for the Blackhawks by scoring on a breakaway 54 seconds into overtime to give his club a much-needed 4-3 victory against arguably the NHL's best team.

"I think we did a good job of hanging in there," Toews said of the Bruins' third-period push. "We're not happy with giving up the lead for sure. ... But it's nice to get the win even though they turned the momentum late in the game."

It was a win the Blackhawks can feel good about from the perspective that every guy played an important role. 

Ryan Carpenter scored a shorthanded goal for his first of the season, DeBrincat (12 games) and Toews (seven) each ended their goal droughts, Dylan Strome had a multi-point effort after missing four games with a concussion, Connor Murphy had a two-assist night, Calvin de Haan led all skaters with 25:26 of ice time and Robin Lehner stopped 37 of 40 shots for a save percentage of .925 after getting pulled in his last start.

The Blackhawks were desperate for a win and they got it, even though it was an ugly finish.

"We knew it was a great opportunity because we haven't played up to par for a long period of time," Lehner said. "We know we have to change the tide and this was a great opportunity to do so. As I've said before we've shown in spurts we're a good team, we've just got to start doing it consistently. It's the same thing in the third period today. We were doing some things that were unacceptable that we need to just take out of our game and then we'll be fine. We have the right personnel on this team to be a good team."

While they will certainly take the two points on the road, the Blackhawks know it won't matter unless they turn this into something larger. They've slipped near the bottom of the Western Conference and are trying to climb their way back up yet again.

And there's an opportunity for the Blackhawks to earn four points in a 48-hour span on Friday against a New Jersey Devils squad that has the second-fewest points (22) of any team and second-worst goal differential (minus-32).

"We had a little run there after we had a big win in Nashville," Toews said. "Whether we win a string of games together, we can build off games like this. We had the start we needed tonight and carried it through 60 for the most part. It's got to be a confidence builder when you beat a team like Boston in their own building but what matters is what we do next. We got another chance to build off it tomorrow night."

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