Hawks happy to see Shaw, Hossa

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Hawks happy to see Shaw, Hossa

Andrew Shaw returns and Marian Hossa was in the building today as the Chicago Blackhawks will host the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 6 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series tonight. Shaw was disappointed he had to miss the last three for his hit on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith in Game 2. He said at the time he was looking for the Blackhawks to hit a Game 6 so he could get another chance.Im thankful the boys pulled it out. Winning these next two would be huge, said Shaw, who isnt going to change his game too much. Im obviously going to play the same way, but maybe stay out of it after the whistles. I have to play between the whistles but Ill still have that gritty play.Coach Joel Quenneville said Shaws energy should be a factor immediately.He was a tough guy to lose because hes useful and versatile in how you use him in the lineup. Hes relentlessly around puck areas, very noticeable, he said. We missed him in certain areas. Just the fact that hes the all-out competitor you like, these guys seem to jump up.With Shaw returning, the healthy forward scratches look to be Brandon Saad, Jamal Mayers and Brandon Bollig. Mayers has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games after not being one through the regular season. Mayers said it was disappointing, but hell stay prepared.We won the last game and Im focused on that. Its not about me, its about the team, he said. If we move on Ill stay ready and Ill support my teammates.Hossa was here, a good sign that hes at least getting around after that hit he took from Raffi Torres in Game 3. But hes still out for tonight.Its good to see him, Quenneville said. I talked to him last night and (good) seeing him here today. Theres no news, but Im sure his teammates are glad to see him, as well.Meanwhile, Viktor Stalberg will look to erase a rough Game 5 in which he took four minors. Stalberg said Quenneville approached the situation with humor.After the fourth one he put me out there and said, Vik, youre up, try to stay out of the penalty box, OK? and just started dying laughing, Stalberg said. That wasnt what I was expecting, but that was good for me. And I responded by getting out there and was involved in that game-winning goal (by Jonathan Toews). So it felt good to give something back there.

Prairie Ridge OL Jeff Jenkins commits to Iowa

Prairie Ridge OL Jeff Jenkins commits to Iowa

Prairie Ridge junior offensive linemen recruit Jeff Jenkins (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) made an unofficial Sunday Junior Day visit to the University of Iowa and came away verbally committed to the Hawkeyes.

"I didn't want to wait," Jenkins said. "I knew I wanted to be a Hawkeye when I met the coaches at Iowa and got on campus."

Jenkins, an All-State linemen for the 2016 Class 6A state champion Wolves, received a scholarship offer from Iowa back on Jan. 13. He pointed towards the Hawkeyes history of developing NFL caliber offensive linemen as one of several keys in his early decision.

"Iowa has a great tradition of offensive linemen," Jenkins said. "I was also just really impressed with the coaches at Iowa along with the facilities and everything that they have to offer. I just knew that I couldn't pass up the opportunity at Iowa. I knew it was home."

Northwestern holds off Ohio State for fifth Big Ten win, first win in Columbus in 40 years

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USA TODAY

Northwestern holds off Ohio State for fifth Big Ten win, first win in Columbus in 40 years

It's not something that's been said often over the decades, but Northwestern is one of the best teams in the Big Ten.

That's the story the standings tell, and with another week of the 2016-17 season in the books, the Wildcats sit at 5-2 in conference play, good for the second-best mark in the league.

That fifth conference win came Sunday afternoon with a 74-72 defeat of Ohio State. It was the first time Northwestern won in Columbus since 1977.

This is the first 5-2 start to Big Ten play for the Cats since 1968. So is this the first time ever the Cats get an invite to the NCAA tournament?

Of course that remains to be seen, but Chris Collins' squad sure seems to be setting itself up for inclusion in the field of 68. Sunday's win was just the latest to come away from Evanston, and in seven conference games, four of the team's five wins have come in road games, including three straight at Nebraska, Rutgers and Ohio State.

Northwestern had to find a way to win Sunday. A couple surges in the first half took the Cats from modest deficits to a lead that grew as big as eight. The halftime advantage was five, but that slipped away quickly as Northwestern shot poorly after halftime. Ice cold is a better descriptor, the Cats struggling to get their field-goal percentage above 30 percent over the final 20 minutes. It got there eventually, the team finishing shooting 32.3 percent in the second half, but it was the work from the free-throw line that made the win possible. Over the final 20 minutes, Northwestern was 14-for-16 from the charity stripe, including going 11-for-12 over the final minute and a half.

The key stretch came when a Scottie Lindsey 3-ball broke a 56-all tie with four and a half minutes to play. Ohio State countered with a bucket, but freshman point guard Isiah Brown turned in back-to-back scores of his own, the second a breakaway layup off a steal. That made it a five-point lead, and though the gap shrunk over the game's final three minutes, Northwestern's free-throw shooting allowed the Cats to hold that lead the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes shot themselves in the foot at the free-throw line. They were 12-for-23 on the game, and all but one of the attempts came in the second half, making for 10 missed free throws over the game's final 20 minutes. Northwestern committed a lot of fouls, but Ohio State couldn't capitalize, something that has to be quite painful for the Buckeyes, considering they had edges in other statistical categories. They shot 45.6 percent from the field compared to the Cats shooting 37.5 percent. Ohio State also had 16 second-chance points and 28 points in the paint. But Northwestern had 17 points off 13 Ohio State turnovers.

Lindsey finished with a game-high 21 points and has scored in double figures in every game this season. Bryant McIntosh had 17 points, and Vic Law had 10. Jae'Sean Tate scored 14 points for Ohio State, with JaQuan Lyle adding 13, Trevor Thompson scoring 11 and Cam Williams putting in 10.

The win was Northwestern's fourth straight and boosted its overall record to 16-4 to go along with the 5-2 mark in the conference. The Cats next play Nebraska on Thursday.

The loss snapped a modest two-game win streak for Ohio State and dropped the Buckeyes' record to 12-8 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten. They next play Minnesota on Wednesday.