Blackhawks

Sweet stick music: Hawks roll to third straight win

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Sweet stick music: Hawks roll to third straight win

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
Posted 9:35 p.m. Updated 10:40 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

NASHVILLE - The Chicago Blackhawks have squandered some opportunities this season when they didnt play a strong defensive game. On Thursday, their ability to do that earned them one of their biggest victories of the season.

WATCH: Crawford, Hawks hungry

Tomas Kopecky, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp scored and Corey Crawford earned his third shutout this season in a 3-0 victory over the Nashville Predators. The Blackhawks, who have now won three in a row and four out of their last five, climbed back into the top eight of the Western Conference.

And the only thing lost on Thursday was coach Joel Quennevilles voice.

Going into the third my voice (left). It was like the first day of training camp or the first regular-season game. Id been idle for a while, said Quenneville, who was coaching in his first game since having treatment for an ulcer last week. Thursdays game was obviously a welcome sight for him.

Crawford was great but the whole defensive core played great, he said. We made some plays up to wingers and forwards. That was good was how solid we were defensively.

It was another dose of momentum for the Blackhawks, who were strong, stoic and defensive-minded from the net out. Crawford stopped all 31 shots he faced and his teammates blocked another 21 shots 13 by defensemen.

It seems like every time I was trying to fight through screens our guys came up with big blocks. That makes a huge difference for a goaltender, Crawford said. We were hungry tonight all over the ice. Our forwards were getting back pressure on their rushes, helping out our D and we were making great plays to get out of our zone.

And when the Predators made mistakes, the Blackhawks turned it into offense. The Blackhawks were about to get a power play late in the first period but Kopecky, the extra attacker on the delayed call, took a pretty Sharp pass and scored.

Hossa was next, causing a Predators turnover then splitting the defensemen en route to a breakaway goal and a 2-0 lead early in the third.

WATCH: Hossa relieved after game

It felt good just to have a regular goal, said Hossa, whose last three goals have been two empty netters and a penalty shot. Ive had some good chances but the puck doesnt want to go in. I saw the puck was coming straight in front of me. I just had to out-skate the defensemen.

Sharp added the empty-net goal with 31 seconds remaining.
After shutting out the Predators, Corey Crawford improved to 21-12-3 this season with a 2.11 goals against average and .923 save percentage. (AP)
(Our focus) needs to stay right where its at, knowing that we havent done anything yet, said Duncan Keith, who had a team-high four blocked shots. Its been a nice couple of wins here that we can really build off of and try to keep it going.

The Blackhawks are gaining momentum that they hope finally leads to that lengthy winning streak thats eluded them so far this season. Theyre feeling better. But given the crazy West race, they know they cant get too comfortable.

There shouldn't be any complacency, Quenneville said. You want to keep pushing ahead. In the rear-view mirror, its so tight. Were never in a place where we should feel comfortable.
Briefly

Niklas Hjalmarsson missed a few shifts at the end of Thursday nights game. Quenneville said the defenseman has an upper-body injury but that it doesnt look like its serious.

Kopeckys goal was his 11th of the season, giving him a new career high.

Sharps goal was his 32nd of the season.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Coach Joel Quenneville addresses the media during his first night back in Chicago

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USA Today

Coach Joel Quenneville addresses the media during his first night back in Chicago

Coach Joel Quenneville has quite a legacy in Chicago. During his 10 years as Blackhawks coach, he won three Stanley Cups after a near 50 year drought. After being fired on November 6, 2018 following a five game losing streak, Coach Q is now the head coach of the Florida Panthers (27-16-5), who are third in the Atlantic Division. NBC Sports Chicago's Blackhawks Insider Charlie Roumeliotis got the chance to sit down with Coach Q for an exclusive interview upon his return to Chicago to face his former team. 

Watch Coach Q address the media ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks matchup against the Florida Panthers at the United Center. 

Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith separated at Blackhawks morning skate

Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith separated at Blackhawks morning skate

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and alternate captain Duncan Keith had to be separated during Tuesday's morning skate after the two appeared to get into a confrontation.

The two three-time Stanley Cup champs wrestled to the ice, with Toews pinning Keith down. Assistant coach Sheldon Brookbank broke the pair up.

“Just a little friendly wrestling," Toews said of the bout. "Were ready to go. It’s a big game tonight. I think the whole point of morning skate is to get going and we’re ready now.”

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton also made light of the situation following the skate. 

"You got a brother?" Colliton asked Chicago Tribune reporter Jimmy Greenfield, who asked about the altercation. "I do too and I got two boys at home, so I've seen that movie before."

Things have been looking up for Chicago, which is three points out of a WIld Card spot and riding a five-game winning streak with one game left before the All-Star break. 

"I don't know," Patrick Kane said with a laugh regarding the kerfuffle. "I think they were just messing around, I'm not really sure what happened there." 

The Hawks welcome coach Joel Quenneville back to the United Center for the first time since he was fired on Nov. 6 of 2018 Tuesday night. Quenneville now coaches the Florida Panthers, third in the Atlantic Division.

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