Blackhawks battle back to defeat rival Red Wings

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Blackhawks battle back to defeat rival Red Wings

Marian Hossa still has plenty of friends from his days with the Detroit Red Wings. On Friday, the Blackhawks winger competed against them like they were the bitterest of enemies.

Hossa scored the tying goal in a stellar performance, and Brent Seabrook added the game-winner early in the third period of the Blackhawks 3-2 victory over the Wings on Friday night. It was an energetic and entertaining game at the United Center, as the Blackhawks came back from two one-goal deficits to take a five-point lead over the Wings in the Central Division.

And Hossa was, well, Hossa: coming with speed, controlling the puck and generally being a nuisance to the Wings all night.

Ive got lots of friends on the other team, and youre always going to remember that year, to be there, Hossa said. But when I play against former teams I dont think about it different. I try to play the same way.

Hossas ability to control allowed him to set up his own goal. He got to the left circle and let one rip, beating Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard high to tie the game 2-2 at the time.

I got the puck down low and I tried to get my speed and I tried to hit open ice and there was nothing open in the middle so I tried to go around, Hossa said. All of a sudden I was kind of alone so I tried to use the space and tried to release it quick.

It was a strong performance from the Blackhawks across the board, from Jonathan Toews big penalty shot early to the Blackhawks defensive stifling the Wings chances late. And for Seabrook, it was the fourth consecutive game hes scored against the Red Wings.

I dont know what it is, Seabrook said of his streak vs. Detroit. Obviously we have to be prepared for defensive side of the game (against Detroit). Its one of those things; its nice if we can contribute to that end of the ice and get a big win.

The Blackhawks were down 1-0 when Toews was awarded a penalty shot on a Nicklas Lidstrom hook. Toews beat Howard five-hole, tying the game and re-energizing the building.

I couldnt believe I got a second chance on that one but I was thankful for it, Toews said. It was a nice pass by (Niklas Hjalmarsson), I just kind of lost the puck there and the guy got his stick on me. Sometimes they dont always see that but it was nice to get the second chance on the penalty shot and I made no mistake there. It was a good feeling to get that one.

Howard said he figured Toews would go that way.

Thats his move to go five-hole, so I was prepared for it, he said. I just didnt get the legs closed fast enough.

Seabrooks shot gave the Blackhawks the lead just 1:52 into the third period. Thats a long time to try and shut down a potent Detroit team. But the Blackhawks did it, keeping some of their top players to very few opportunities. Henrik Zetterberg had just one shot in the game, Pavel Datsyuk had none.

We were quick in the puck areas, had good sticks, pressured well and had a good gap, so that helped definitely, coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks got that complete game they needed and held tight in the third period. It was a good test against a formidable longtime foe, and the Blackhawks passed.

We were going to stay patient, Toews said. We stuck with it going into the third period. We were confident we were going to use our crowd and energy and find a way to win. We did that.

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews named NHL's second star of the week

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews named NHL's second star of the week

Jonathan Toews was named the NHL's second star for the week ending Feb. 26 after recording four goals and five assists in three games, all of which resulted in Blackhawks wins.

The 28-year-old captain kicked off the week with a hat trick and five-point effort in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, then followed that up with two assists in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. 

He wrapped up the week by scoring a goal and adding an assist in a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues to extend his point streak to six games. He has five goals and eight assists during that span.

Toews now ranks third on the team with 46 points and is tied for fifth with 16 goals.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (eight goals and two assists in four games) and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (two goals and six assists in four games) were named the first and third stars, respectively.


In midst of career season, Artem Anisimov still not satisfied with overall game

In midst of career season, Artem Anisimov still not satisfied with overall game

In terms of points this season, Artem Anisimov is closing in on some career numbers.

His goal against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night was his 22nd of the season, tying a career best set with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013-14. One more point and he'll equal his career best (44) in that department from 2010-11, when he was with the New York Rangers.

And all of this is with 20 games remaining in the regular season. So is this Anisimov's best career regular season?

"Ah, no," Anisimov said recently. "Close to it, but not good enough."

Anisimov would list a few things he still needs to improve upon – we'll get to that later – but even "close," Anisimov has had another strong season for the Blackhawks, once again centering Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane. It's easy to focus on those two wings, given their dazzling play-making ability. But every line needs at least one blue-collar guy, the one who does more of the dirty work and perhaps takes the punishment in front of the net.

For the second consecutive season, that second-line guy is Anisimov, and his net-front play, especially, has led to more production this season.

"Arty's a smart player. He knows getting there, there [are] rewards for being around the net," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He finds his positioning. Sometimes he gets there at the right time and his arrival times are due to his anticipation with his wingers. [It's] the willingness; there's some abuse you have to take over the course of a regular season and it doesn't distract Arty from getting there."

Anisimov's game-winner against the Blues came the way so many others have this season: around the net. This one was off a slick pass from Panarin. Be it scoring goals like that, limiting a goaltender's vision or cleaning up rebounds, Anisimov's net-front presence has been steady. 

"He's coming up with pucks, gets those loose pucks to Kaner and Bread Man and they do their thing and create some magic there. Or you have Arty in front and you have Kaner and Bread doing their thing back and forth across the zone and you have that big body in front," Ryan Hartman said. "It makes it difficult, and not just when one of them are shooting. Sometimes the goalie can't see the pass because Arty's there and it's really deceptive and a big part of our team."

So the production has been there, no doubt. But where does Anisimov feel he's lacking?

"I just need to improve in all aspects: skating, back check, forecheck, stick position," Anisimov said. "All the little things have to be a little bit better."

Most players are never satisfied with where their games are. They're always looking to improve. Anisimov will keep working on what he thinks are some deficiencies but his constant net-front presence has filled what used to be an issue for the Blackhawks.