Trio of quick goals gives Blackhawks win over Flames


Trio of quick goals gives Blackhawks win over Flames

Coach Joel Quenneville has sensed a difference with the Blackhawks this past weekend.

They had plenty of energy heading into Saturday’s game in St. Louis. They have a healthy roster for the first time all season, giving Quenneville more options. It’s just two days, but the Blackhawks have felt more like a complete team. And for the second consecutive night, they played like one.

Patrick Kane scored his 13th goal of the season, and Marian Hossa scored his first in nearly a month as the Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames, 4-1, on Sunday night. It was the second consecutive victory and third in the last four games for the Blackhawks, who scored four unanswered goals to take this one.

Artemi Panarin scored his sixth of the season, as did Jonathan Toews, who got an empty-net goal with 37.4 seconds remaining in regulation. Scott Darling stopped 25 of 26 shots for the victory.

“I thought that was probably our best two games, back-to-back, and the consistency we always look for was right there,” Quenneville said. “We had more of a four-line rotation going where we had some predictability, timely goals, some nice pays. Across the board, everyone contributed.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: GIFs: Blackhawks score three goals in less than two minutes]

Again, it helps to have defensemen Duncan Keith and Michal Rozsival back in the mix. But the Blackhawks still were looking to get their all-around game going, and they’ve done that these past two games.

Nevertheless, they fell behind first in this one. David Jones put the Flames up, 1-0, just 3:41 into the second period. But about three minutes later, the Blackhawks went on a scoring barrage, recording three goals in 1:55. Kane was first, tying the game with a backhander to extend his point streak to 13 consecutive games, one game shy of his career high. It was Kane’s seventh goal in as many games.

“That whole line compliments each other well. Panarin and (Kane) have great chemistry, and don’t forget (Artem) Anisimov. He’s creating space and winning those loose puck battles,” Keith said. “It’s a full-line effort, and Kaner’s leading the way, for sure.”

Sixty-three seconds later Hossa scored his first since Oct. 17, a knuckleballer that gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead. Panarin scored 52 seconds later for a 3-1 lead.

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Darling did the rest. After seeing just four Flames shots in the first period, Darling stopped 21 of 22 in the second and third.

“The last start I had I didn’t play well. When you’re dwelling on it for two weeks, you’re really excited to get back into the net and make the most of the opportunity,” said Darling, whose last start was in Minnesota on Oct. 30. “It was a long two weeks working hard with (goaltending coach Jimmy Waite), and I’m happy with the way it turned out tonight.”

The Blackhawks are happy with the way the last two nights have turned out. There’s still a long way to go, and the Circus Trip, their six-game jaunt through Western Canada and California, looms. But they’re starting to feel more like a team now, and it’s leading to results.

“We put ourselves in a good spot,” Quenneville said. “That Jersey game (on Thursday) still bothers me a little bit, but we did so many good things in that game it was, ‘OK, let’s not get frustrated,’ knowing we’re looking like we’re outside the playoffs and it’s still early in the year. We did put ourselves in a tough spot but had a great response here. We have to play well on this road trip and prove we can play the same way.”

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning


Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period


Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.