Blackhawks rally for third straight win

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Blackhawks rally for third straight win

All the excuses were in place for the Blackhawks.

Back from a nine-game road trip. Second game in 24 hours. Third game in four days. And, oh, yeah, they were playing the league's best defensive team that was coming off its 12th shutout the day before.

But the Hawks rallied from a 1-0 deficit after two periods to score three in the third for their third straight win, 3-1 over St. Louis.

Theyre a great team, a patient team, said Bryan Bickell, who earned an assist on Dave Bollands game-winning goal. Theyve been having an outstanding year, and for the stuff weve been through, its important to move on and get this ball rolling again.

They dont give up much. Ya gotta stay with it. Against them, its not a high-quality-chance game, explained Head Coach Joel Quenneville. Youve gotta go through high traffic, you have to score ugly goals and we got a few breaks in that area today. But the guys hung with it. I know sometimes the guys looked a little tired on shifts, but we shortened them in the third, and we got a little more energy off of it.

Duncan Keiths equalizer just under five minutes into the third was just his second goal in three months, but he was on his way to a plus-3 after being a plus-4 in Columbus 24 hours earlier.

It was only one goal (deficit). We knew we were right there. I think we learned a lot there in that losing streak. I think weve brought some of those lessons learned in tonights game. Its only one game, but weve got to keep playing the right way, and use those things weve been learning.

They're now 2-0 this season against Blues All-Star goalie Brian Elliott, who has just four other losses in 29 games this season. It also was a reward for Corey Crawford, who's now quieting the "let's trade for a goaltender" talk as the man in net for this three-game win streak's that followed the nine-game nightmare. When the Hawks were being dominated, and outshot 15-4 in the opening period, the only shot that got past him was on a goalmouth pileup in which Jamie Langenbrunner kicked the puck to Andy McDonald, whose stick provided enough push to get it over the goal line. Crawford stopped the other 29 shots he faced, including a breakaway by Chris Stewart midway through the second to keep it 1-0. There were a couple of other big ones along the way, too.

Ive been able to be in more control, not sliding around as much, Crawford explained after his 21st victory of the season earned him No. 1 Star of the Game honors. Ive been pretty focused. As a team were doing the little things right, not forcing anything. And thats the perfect game to show it, down most of the game and not trying to do too much to try and get one. We were just putting the puck in the right places and waiting for our chance.

I was always comfortable with our goalies, Quenneville said. It was only a matter of time where we needed a goalie win and I thought today was. Hes proven to us that hes capable of doing it.

He was great tonight, said Patrick Kane. I think hes changed up his game a little bit. Hes working really hard in practice, and just talking to him, it sounds like hes really excited about where hes at. Its good to have confidence in him. Wed seen it all last year with how good he was in that stretch. E know what a great goaltender he can be.

Dave Bolland's winning goal was actually a centering pass that went off of Blues captain David Backes, who was parked in front of the net. Those are the kind of goals that had been going against the Blackhawks recently. Marian Hossa then wristed in an empty-netter from his own blue line in the final minute to cap off Hossa Bobblehead Day.
Wicked Wristers

- The Hawks power play is now 0-for-its-last-29 with Sunday's 0-for-3. Bolland scored the last one in the third period of the last home game, January 24th against Nashville.

- Joel Quenneville said before the game defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson skated once again and could be ready for Tuesday's game against Detroit. He's missed the last five with an upper body injury. Steve Montador's also missed the last five with an upper body, but the Head Coach says there's been no progress toward his return.

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

The Blackhawks' season ended much sooner than expected after being swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Nashville Predators.

But for some players, their hockey season may not be finished yet.

The IIHF World Championships begin May 5, and an early postseason exit gives several Blackhawks an opportunity to play in the tournament.

With the National Hockey League saying it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, players may be more inclined to join given the uncertainty of when they'll be able to represent their countries again — if ever, for some.

Here's an update on which Blackhawks players could be participating:

— Patrick Kane said Saturday he's taking the weekend to mull over Team USA's offer, and will make a final decision in the next "day or two."

— Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews each declined their invites from Team Canada, electing to use a lengthy offseason to recharge and focus on training for the 2017-18 NHL season.

— Corey Crawford and Nick Schmaltz said they have not been contacted by their respective countries, but both said they would consider going if they are.

— Artemi Panarin has reportedly already accepted Team Russia's offer to play.

— Niklas Hjalmarsson said he's "thinking about" Team Sweden's offer after the NHL's decision not to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics. "Who knows when I'll ever get a chance to play for my country again, so that might be factor," he said.

— Marcus Kruger said he's talking with Team Sweden officials, and has expressed interest in going.

— Marian Hossa said he informed Team Slovakia that he will not be playing: "Let the young guys play."

— Richard Panik will not be participating either, saying he doesn't want to risk injury as he seeks a new contract.

Jonathan Toews will make 'little changes' to offseason prep

Jonathan Toews will make 'little changes' to offseason prep

Jonathan Toews gave a succinct "no" when asked if he'd consider playing in the World Championships next month in Europe. For the Blackhawks captain, his 2016-17 season wasn't where it needed to be.

So instead of helping Team Canada across the pond, he'll prepare to help the Blackhawks more next season.

Toews will use this offseason in a variety of ways, including taking some time completely off to heal and rest. And while there's a lot of time between now and the Blackhawks' training camp, Toews said competing in the World Championships would take up a good amount of time he'd rather use to be ready for the fall.

"At this point of my career, going through the last couple of years the way things have played out, there are some little changes here and there with how I approach my preparation, especially the last summer being a long offseason and coming in feeling I was as prepared as I could be and still not getting to the level of play I wanted to this season," Toews said on Saturday. "There are some things I have to re-evaluate and think about this offseason. There's no satisfaction there but definitely take a different approach with how I prepare for next season. I didn't get to the level I needed to be to help our team survive a little bit longer in this last series, so I have to be responsible for that as well. Just look back, assess and see what you can do differently."

Toews had a slow start to the season and then missed three weeks with a reported back injury. Much like the rest of the Blackhawks he started heating up in February and finished the regular season with 21 goals. But it was another quiet postseason for him, as Toews had just one goal in the four games against the Nashville Predators, and that was a late-regulation power-play goal in Game 4.

So was Toews dealing with a physical issue? Asked how healthy he was, Toews said, "well, that's kind of one of the things I'm hitting on," but didn't get more specific than that. Coach Joel Quenneville said some of the Blackhawks' key players, "have some issues they're taking care of, but I don't think it's going to be to that extent to where it's long term care." Quenneville also said any health issues had nothing to do with what happened in this series. Toews certainly wasn't using it as an excuse, either. As for the future, Toews said he'll reconfigure his workout, training regimen, whatever necessary to be better next season.

"Just the way the speed of the game has changed the last few years. I've always been the type of player who likes to play heavy and protect the puck in the corners. It seems the strength has been a factor but also the speed in my game that I used to have in my younger years," Toews said. "I have to get back to playing more puck possession, more speed on the rush. That right there is one little thing. But I think the skill part is another thing I'll have to focus on and trying to get back to playing the way I can."