Blackhawks

Twice is nice: Andrew Shaw scores two as Blackhawks win eighth straight

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Twice is nice: Andrew Shaw scores two as Blackhawks win eighth straight

An eight-game winning streak, a continuous rise in the standings and a milestone victory for their coach: not a bad Tuesday.

Andrew Shaw scored two goals and Brent Seabrook added another as the Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 on Tuesday night. The victory gave Joel Quenneville his 782nd victory, tying him with the late Al Arbour for second on the all-time coaching victories list. Even bigger, however, is that the Blackhawks have won eight in a row and are now just two points behind Dallas, which doesn’t play again until Friday.

Marian Hossa had two assists. Corey Crawford stopped 41 of 43 shots in the victory. Richard Panik was a late addition to the lineup after Artem Anisimov was a late scratch due to illness. Panik played on the Blackhawks’ third line with Phillip Danault and Andrew Desjardins while Teuvo Teravainen centered the second line with Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane.

Quenneville, who signed a three-year extension earlier on Tuesday, was “honored” at tying Arbour.

“It took a little scariness there at the end; Crow had to make a big save in the dying seconds. But we did some good things to get the lead,” Quenneville said. “It’s happened very quickly. Al Arbour was a great coach in our game. Everybody always said good things, everybody has a lot of respect for what he accomplished. We always had a heck of a time beating trying to beat him, so very special and honored. I feel fortunate.”

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The Blackhawks were feeling the same way in the waning seconds of this one. Crawford’s 41st stop was his most dramatic, a last-second one on Ryan Johansen, who was going for the tying goal.

“Yeah, I mean everyone’s feeling pretty good,” said Crawford, who has won six consecutive starts. “I think the chemistry is there and everyone is playing well together as a team, making the right plays. We’re not making too many mistakes out there in all three zones. I think your team is well rounded right now.”

The Blackhawks are rounding into form, and more balanced scoring has helped. For the second consecutive night the top line came up big. Shaw gave the Blackhawks the 1-0 when he knocked in Hossa’s wraparound attempt with 58 seconds remaining in the first period. He made it 2-0 when he caught and scored off Hossa’s pass through the slot about six minutes into the second.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable [with the top-line spot]. I always have to compete for my ice,” Shaw said. “But it’s easy playing with those two guys [Hossa and Jonathan Toews]. They make it a lot easier. They slow the game down, they find you when you’re open and they get to the open areas for you as well.”

Seabrook made it 3-0 off a pass from Kane about 13 minutes into the second period. Just 18 seconds later, however, Mike Ribeiro got one back for the Predators, cutting the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-1.

Filip Forsberg got the Predators to within one goal with 36.3 seconds remaining in regulation before Crawford made that one last stop to deny the Predators a tie.

The Blackhawks are finding a great rhythm right now. They’re getting more offense from more players, solid defense and great goaltending. Things in the Central Division just keep getting more interesting.

“The team’s playing well, all lines are contributing,” Shaw said. “We’re playing our systems to a tee. We tighten up our defensive zone the offensive chances are going to come.”

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes, coach Joel Quenneville confirmed after morning skate on Thursday morning.

"It’s exciting," Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks will assign forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: