Blackhawks net six, destroy Blue Jackets

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Blackhawks net six, destroy Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio If the Blackhawks want to string a few victories together after that awful losing streak, theyre going to need their best players to be just that.

On Saturday afternoon they were.

Top liners Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane combined for eight points and Corey Crawford stopped 34 of 35 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-1 at Nationwide Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Blackhawks won their second in a row and now have 69 points, just three points behind fifth-place Nashville.

The Blackhawks werent exactly a well-running machine all game; got off to a ragged start, trailing 1-0 when Derick Brassard scored off a Sami Lepisto turnover. But a cleaner game, a great goaltending performance and six unanswered goals later, the Blackhawks were wrapping up this grueling nine-game road trip on a positive note.

We had the low start and Toews had that nice goal to get us going. We played better the rest of the first period after that, said Duncan Keith, who had an assist and was a plus-4. We were able to make some nice plays and capitalize. But I still think defensively, were working on things.

Perhaps. But if the Blackhawks had a lapse on Saturday their goaltending came through for them. Crawford played one of his best games in some time, stopping everything after Brassards first-period goal.

He was huge, Sharp said of Crawford. Its a tough position: you take heat when you lose and get credit when you win. He was solid back there, really a staple in the defensive scheme.

Crawford said hes felt better about his game these last two starts.

Ive slowed things down, Crawford said. Im not moving around as much, Im being patient and reading the play a little bit better. Our guys are getting in shooting lanes, too.

With Crawford shoring up one end, the Blackhawks top line went to work at the other. Toews driving goal in the first period tied things up he also had two assists later -- and the Blackhawks never looked back. Sharp had a goal and two assists and Kane had an assist and his 13th goal of the season.

We worked hard, stayed patient and we knew the chances were going to come, Toews said. Consistently over 60 minutes we got those chances and those goals.

Viktor Stalbergs goal was his eighth against Columbus this season. Lepisto, who was benched for quite a while after that early turnover, came back to score his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform.

The Blackhawks didnt finish this road trip playing the perfect game. But considering how rough the first seven games of it were, they just needed to get some victories and get some confidence back, from goaltending on out.

Now they need to bring that home again, starting against a tough St. Louis Blues team. The confines get more familiar, but the schedule wont get easier.

Its been a long trip, coach Joel Quenneville said. Its going to be a quick morning, too.

Lars Johansson excited for Blackhawks call-up

Lars Johansson excited for Blackhawks call-up

If Lars Johansson was surprised by the turn of events that led to his call-up, he wasn’t showing it.

The goaltender has played a bulk of the Rockford IceHogs’ games this season before Saturday, when he was recalled after Corey Crawford was sidelined with appendicitis. And while he’s not sure how much he’ll play while with the Blackhawks, Johansson is ready to benefit from the experience, even if it’s solely in practices.

“I hope to learn a lot,” Johansson said prior to Sunday’s game, the first in which he served as backup goaltender for the Blackhawks. “It’s top players and they’re the best players in the world. I’m excited to face every shot from them and hopefully I can be a little bit better.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said Scott Darling will likely play “a big chunk” of the time Crawford is sidelined. That’s not surprising. But Quenneville said the organization has confidence in Johansson if he’s needed.

“When he came to our organization we thought he had a chance to play at this level,” Quenneville said. “He has size, experience coming up here, a chance to face NHL shooters and you never know. We know things change quickly in our business. We’ve seen over the last few years, everyone using three or four goalies deep. We’ll see with Lars. If he gets a chance to play, he’ll be fine.”

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Johansson has a 6-7-1 record (2.63 goals-against average and .911 save percentage) in his brief time with the Rockford IceHogs. After signing with the Blackhawks in May, Johansson faced the same issue as many who come from across the pond: adjusting to the North American ice. So Johansson got here well ahead of training camp this season to get used to the smaller surface. That, combined with his games in Rockford have Johansson feeling better.

“The shots can come quicker, and it’s tighter, crowded, in front of the net so you have to work a little bit more. But otherwise than that, yeah, the [trapezoid] where I can play the puck that was a bit different in the very beginning,” Johansson said. “It took me a couple of weeks but now you don’t even think about it anymore.”

Johansson will take this experience for whatever it brings. If it’s mostly practice, so be it. If he does get in a game, he’ll handle all the emotions that will come with that and go with it.

“If something were to happen, absolutely I would be nervous, excited for any new thing my whole career. It would be exciting most of all,” Johansson said. “If that happens, it happens. I just have to make myself prepared as good as I can now if that were to happen.”

Blackhawks Updates: Jonathan Toews 'not getting better,' out vs. Jets

Blackhawks Updates: Jonathan Toews 'not getting better,' out vs. Jets

Jonathan Toews will be out once again with an injury that’s “not getting better,” and Scott Darling will start when the Blackhawks face the Winnipeg Jets tonight at the United Center.

Toews, suffering from a reported back injury, skated on Sunday morning. But coach Joel Quenneville said later in the afternoon that the Blackhawks will keep Toews off the ice for about three days and then, “get a better assessment in the middle of the week.” Once listed as day-to-day, Toews, who was injured on Nov. 23, will now miss his sixth consecutive game.

“Well, you certainly miss his presence in all aspects of his team game, his leadership is as good as anyone who plays,” Quenneville said. “I still think you have to find a way to do what you can to make a contribution and make a simpler game plan.”

Gustav Forsling is expected to play tonight. With Nick Schmaltz reassigned to Rockford earlier on Sunday – to get playing time but also due to cap issues – Andrew Desjardins will move over to center the fourth line.

Darling will start his second consecutive game and is expected to get a bulk of the work with Corey Crawford sidelined after his appendectomy on Saturday. Lars Johansson was recalled to be the Blackhawks’ backup in Crawford’s absence.

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Connor Hellebuyck will start against the Blackhawks again tonight. Hellebuyck stopped 27 shots in a 4-0 victory over the Blackhawks on Nov. 15.

BLACKHAWKS VS. WINNIPEG JETS

6 p.m.

TV: CSN

Live Stream: CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports App

Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Ryan Hartman-Vinnie Hinostroza -Marian Hossa

Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger -Richard Panik

Tyler Motte-Andrew Desjardins-Jordin Tootoo

 

Duncan Keith-Brian Campbell

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling-Niklas Hjalmarsson

 

Scott Darling

 

INJURIES: Jonathan Toews (upper body), Corey Crawford (appendix).

Winnipeg Jets (via Winnipeg Free Press)

Nikolaj Ehlers-Bryan Little-Patrik Laine

Drew Stafford-Mathieu Perrault-Blake Wheeler

Andrew Copp-Adam Lowry-Marko Dano

Brandon Tanev-Alexander Burmistrov-Chris Thorburn

 

Josh Morrissey-Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom-Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot-Paul Postma

 

Connor Hellebuyck

 

INJURIES: Mark Scheifele (lower body), Joel Armia (lower body), Shawn Matthias (lower body), Tyler Myers (lower body).