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.”

Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown


Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown

In honor of the late executive Jim Johannson, who died unexpectedly in his sleep in January at the age of 53, USA Hockey is hosting a Stars and Stripes Showdown at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan on Sunday, Aug. 26 and three Blackhawks will be participating in it: Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Connor Murphy.

Kane served as USA's captain at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark this past May and set a new American record with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 10 tournament contests, which earned him MVP honors. DeBrincat had one goal and eight assists while Murphy led USA with a plus-7 rating.

Other star-studded headliners participating: Connor Hellebuyck, Seth Jones, Dylan Larkin, Auston Matthews, Charlie McAvoy, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, James van Riemsdyk and Zach Werenski. It's a great group getting together to celebrate the life of Johannson, who was an instrumental part of USA Hockey's program for the last 18 years.

Tickets are being sold for $10 and $15, which you can purchase here. Doors open at 1 p.m. ET with the game starting at 2 p.m.

A few events that will occur throughout the game: a ceremonial puck drop, a live game-worn jersey auction, an online auction featuring game-worn jerseys and autographed NHL memorabilia, special raffles and an opportunity postgame to meet and greet select players and coaches. All proceeds will benefit both the Jim Johannson Legacy Fund of The USA Hockey Foundation and the Ellie Johannson College Fund.

Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19


Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19

Despite missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks will appear on national television a league-high 19 times during the 2018-19 season, NBC Sports announced on Monday. Eleven of them will appear exclusively on NBC or NBCSN, with the other eight on NBC Sports Chicago in the Chicago area.

Eight of the 19 games will also land on "Wednesday Night Hockey," which will replace "Wednesday Night Rivalry" as part of NBC Sports' most diverse exclusive schedule to date that will include a total of 109 games. 

Here are five games to circle from the 11 games that will be aired exclusively on national TV, in order of how they appear on the schedule:

1. The new-look Blues — Nov. 14 vs. St. Louis at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

There might not have been a team in the Central Division that had a stronger offseason than the Blues. After failing to secure a postseason berth for the first time since 2010-11, they went out a traded for top-six center Ryan O'Reilly, signed Tyler Bozak to ensure even more depth down the middle, and added power forwards Patrick Maroon and David Perron to round out their top-nine. Not to mention the offensively skilled Robby Fabbri will be returning to the lineup after missing the entire 2017-18 campaign with an ACL injury. It'll be a nice early test for the Blackhawks.

2. Three Cups vs. three Cups — Dec. 12 vs. Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

Whenever the Blackhawks and Penguins get together it's always a fun battle to watch because there's so much firepower sharing the same sheet of ice: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews. That's five future Hall of Famers right there. There's also the fact that they are tied for most Stanley Cups in the salary cap era with three, adding some extra juice between two teams that don't often see each other.

3. Winter Classic — Jan. 1 vs. Boston at 12 p.m. on NBC at Notre Dame Stadium

For the sixth time in franchise history, the Blackhawks will appear in an outdoor game. But they haven't had much luck in those games, losing four of the previous five, including all three of their Winter Classic appearances. The Bruins are 1-1 in outdoor games and will look to break the .500 mark in a rematch of the memorable 2013 Stanley Cup Final — at least for the city of Chicago — and Original Six showdown.

4. The defending champion Capitals come to town — Jan. 20 at 11:30 a.m. on NBC

Any time the reigning champions visit your city, it's a game you know you can't take off. Especially since it's the Game of the Week. Alex Ovechkin fell one goal shy of hitting the 50-goal mark for the eighth time in his NHL career at age 32 last season, but it was still good enough to win his seventh "Rocket" Richard Trophy. More importantly, he scored 15 goals and added 12 assists in 24 postseason contests to help lead the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs while doing so. He's still the greatest goal scorer in hockey — perhaps even of all time — and that's a reason in and of itself why it's a must-watch, even though in his last game against Chicago he was held without a shot attempt for the first time in his NHL career.

5. Rekindling an old rivalry with Red Wings — Feb. 20 at Detroit at 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Ever since the NHL realigned the divisions in 2013-14, the Blackhawks and Red Wings get to see each other only twice per season — once at home and once on the road. No two teams in NHL history have squared off more than these two, so it's certainly been an adjustment. But fans know how deep this rivalry goes, and every time they do clash, there's a playoff-like atmosphere in the building and you can feel it through your television screen as well. This will likely be no different.

Check out the Blackhawks' full national television schedule here: