Blackhawks

Thanks to Toews, Blackhawks finish .500 on trip

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Thanks to Toews, Blackhawks finish .500 on trip

LOS ANGELES On the 12th day of a hockey road trip, it can be hard to dredge up the energy and the performance, offensively andor defensively, necessary to end it on a positive note.

But the Chicago Blackhawks found a way to do it. And they finished their lengthy excursion with one of their best defensive outings of the trip.

Jonathan Toews scored the game-winning goal in the second period and Corey Crawford stopped 26 of 27 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 at Staples Center on Saturday night. It was the second victory in as many nights for the Blackhawks, who went 3-3-0 on their annual circus trip.

And for the most part, the Blackhawks did it with the part of their game that eluded them midway through the trip: defense. Jarret Stoll scored the Kings lone goal on a defensive lapse; but otherwise the Blackhawks were stoic.

The game that got us back on track was in San Jose; losing 1-0, playing the perfect road game and getting beat, coach Joel Quenneville said. We talked about being consistent in that type of effort and we got rewarded last two nights.

And the last line of defense, Crawford, did his part, too. The goaltender had arguably his best game of this trip, nullifying several Kings shooting flurries for his 11th victory of the season.

I havent been getting the results Ive wanted; I feel like I need to give a little bit more, Crawford said. That was another good game from us. The guys were coming back, breaking up plays, just overall a good game. It was another good game defensively, too.

On the other side, the Blackhawks got just enough offense. Andrew Brunettes wrap-around gave them the early lead. Toews was in the right place when a Duncan Keith shot ricocheted off the back boards and right to him for the tap-in.

We knew it was going to be a tight one, Toews said. Its fun to win those tight ones, especially at the end of this road trip. We didnt start this trip the way we wanted to but we finished a lot better.

The middle of this trip was forgettable but the Blackhawks erased a lot of that bad taste with their work in the California portion of it. They ironed out some defensive issues, got back to playing their team game and salvaged the trip. Now they head home, where theyve played brilliant in the early going.

It was a long road trip and I think we know were excited to go home now, said Keith, who had two assists. I think were happy with the way we played the last three games. It was tough not to get a point in San Jose, but sometimes thats the way it goes. Its nice to finish a long road trip with a couple of wins. Well use that momentum to come home here.

Briefly

Daniel Carcillo was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Quenneville said he wanted to get John Scott in as a forward against the Kings. Scott had some spirited fights with Kings right wing Kevin Westgarth last season. The two did not fight on Saturday night.

Toews was the NHLs No. 1 star of Friday night for his career-best, five-point outing (two goals, three assists) against the Anaheim Ducks. Patrick Sharp was the leagues No. 2 star for that night after he tallied his second career hat trick.

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.