Big Ben: Hawks get even on Smith's heroics

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Big Ben: Hawks get even on Smith's heroics

Sunday, April 24, 2011
Posted: 9:54 p.m. Updated: 11:14 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Ben Smith said he couldnt come up with the words to describe how he felt after netting the game-winning goal on Sunday night. His smile, which reached from ear to ear said it all.

WATCH: Frolik, Crawford full of confidence

Smith knocked a rebound past Roberto Luongo with 4:30 remaining in overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks forced Game 7 with their 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. For Smith, it was undoubtedly the biggest goal of his young career, although he certainly wouldnt have drawn it up that way.

I guess when youre growing up youre thinking overtime, a couple seconds left and a breakaway. But it was a greasy goal, it was ugly, and thats the goal that was going to go in in overtime for either team, Smith said. It was going to be an ugly goal.

It was, but it led to a pretty scenario for the Blackhawks, who were once down 3-0 in the series and are now riding a wave of confidence theyll take to Game 7 in Vancouver on Tuesday.

WATCH: How Hawks went from 3-0 hole to Game 7

We feel so much in control, said Dave Bolland, who had a goal and an assist. The momentums going our way. After winning three games straight, its huge for us.

It was a stunning ending in a game full of interesting subplots. Brent Seabrook returned after missing a week from a concussion and Michael Frolik scored the first penalty shot in Blackhawks postseason history to tie the game early in the third period. Cory Schneider started Game 6 instead of Roberto Luongo, but Luongo was back in at the end after Schneider said he cramped up on Froliks tying shot.

I got a long shift before that and I was kind of gassed, Frolik said. I kept my breath and calmed down and tried to focus on myself and my moves and that hopefully it would work.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said they decided Saturday to go with Schneider.

All year long weve used both goaltenders and to tell you the truth, I went with the guy, I thought Cory could give us a real good game tonight, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. I think we played our best game of the series so far tonight, we were down early to five defensemen (minus Sami Salo), and we just kept pushing.

Corey Crawford had another big outing for the Blackhawks. He was especially strong in the third period and overtime, when he stopped 21 of the 22 shots he saw. Seeing or maybe hearing Smiths game-winning goal was a relief.

I kind of got a glimpse of his stick swatting at it backhand, Crawford said. I was hoping it was going in and I saw the crowd jump up and that was pretty much it. It was awesome.
Corey Crawford makes one of his 32 saves on a 2-on-1 rush for the Canucks in overtime. (US PRESSWIRE)
Bolland was once again a factor. His hit on Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis forced the turnover that went to Bryan Bickell, who scored the Blackhawks first goal. Bolland later scored when Schneiders clearing pass went right to Patrick Kane, who fed it to him. Bolland now has six points (two goals, four assists) in his three games this series. He has 17 points in 15 career playoff games against the Canucks.

Hes got a lot of jump in his game. And coming off an injury like he had, youre not sure how effective hes going to be, coach Joel Quenneville said. But hes been pretty remarkable.

The Blackhawks are somehow still alive. They staved off the Canucks furious attempts to win in overtime.

Weve got a great feeling in this locker room and thats what you get when you win three games in a row, Jonathan Toews said. Were fighting our way back; even coming into this game, people were talking like we were up. We knew we werent, that we still had a lot of work to do and we still do. Theres one more game and anything can happen.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Ted Dent was another longstanding member of the Blackhawks' organization. On Tuesday, he was the latest to be let go.

Dent, head coach of the Rockford IceHogs for the past six seasons, was fired on Tuesday morning. Dent spent a total of 11 years in the organization; he was the IceHogs' assistant coach for five seasons before taking the head coaching job for the 2011-12 season.

Just over a year ago, the Blackhawks gave Dent a three-year contract extension that was set to run through the end of the 2018-19 season.

"The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization," Blackhawks general Manager Stan Bowman said. "He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best."

The IceHogs didn't have the depth this season they had in previous years, and they struggled all season en route to a 25-39-9-3 record. The struggles got worse after the March 1 trade deadline, when the Blackhawks sent Spencer Abbott and Sam Carrick to the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate). At the time, Abbott led the IceHogs in points with 35 (15 goals, 20 assists) and Carrick was second with 28 points (11 goals 17 assists).

After the two were traded, the IceHogs went 4-12-1.

It's the second consecutive day in which the Blackhawks fired a member of their organization's coaching staff. Mike Kitchen, the Blackhawks' assistant coach since 2010, was fired on Monday. Kitchen and head coach Joel Quenneville have been friends going back to their NHL playing days, when the two were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was also part of Quenneville's coaching staff in St. Louis.

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, he said that there would be change. That started on Monday when assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired.

The move came five days after the Blackhawks were swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said in a statement that, “we believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward. Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future.”

Kitchen has been a member of coach Joel Quenneville’s staff since 2010. The two go back to their playing days, however, when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and also the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was Quenneville’s assistant when the two were with the St. Louis Blues and when Quenneville was fired as Blues coach midway through the 2003-04 season, Kitchen was promoted to head coach.

As part of the Blackhawks’ staff Kitchen’s focus on special teams, mainly the penalty kill. That kill finished the regular season 24th overall in the league, although that has to come with an asterisk. The penalty kill started the 2016-17 season so poorly that it was never going to get too far out of the basement. It did get stronger as the season wore on, and it was fourth overall during the Blackhawks’ short stay in the playoffs.