Blackhawks storm back to drop Maple Leafs, end three-game skid

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Blackhawks storm back to drop Maple Leafs, end three-game skid

Ray Emery got the call from his coach as the Blackhawks walked off the bench for the first intermission. Corey Crawford was out, he was in.

And over the next two periods, Emery answered that call.

Emery stopped 23 of 24 shots in relief, Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist and Marian Hossa scored twice as the Blackhawks rallied to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks snapped a three-game losing streak and moved back into sixth place with 17 games remaining.

Andrew Shaw, recalled on Monday, scored his sixth of the season. Nick Leddy, who had two assists, took a hit late in the third but coach Joel Quenneville said he was fine.

It looked like the Blackhawks would be down 3-1 to end the first period, but Marcus Kruger scored with 29.5 seconds remaining to cut it to 3-2. The Blackhawks looked at that goal as one of the turning points.

I think it was the goal at the end of the first (that turned the tide), to be honest with you, said Kane, who was stellar on a line with Hossa and Andrew Brunette. You always stress the first minute of periods and the last minute of periods to try to not give up a goal or try and score a goal. It was a huge play, got us back to within one.

Emery took it from there. He was solid throughout and strong in the third period, when the Leafs fired 17 shots at him.

At the end of the day Ray did an outstanding job, Quenneville said. You look back over the year, you get some goalie wins. He was instrumental in us winning tonight.

Emery said it was a tough first for us, and as a guy whos coming off the bench you just want to play solid and give the guys a chance to take games. We played really well defensively the rest of the game and got some goals.

Kane was the catalyst on the other end, tying the game at 3-3 at the time and then later feeding Hossa for his 25th.

I think hes had some games where hes been doing stuff but the puck hasnt gone in. If the goalie makes a save, everybody forgets he had a nice chance and created something for himself, said Duncan Keith, who had an assist, blocked four shots and finished a plus-2. Hes been battling and its nice to see him get rewarded tonight.

Newly acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya got off to a rough start, being on the ice for the Leafs first three goals. But Quenneville switched the pairs, putting Keith and Brent Seabrook together and Oduya with Nick Leddy, and it proved beneficial.

I thought Johnny, the last 40 minutes was excellent, Quenenville said. He did a great job, great gap and had a good stick. I like his patience on the ice. Once we split up the pairs and tried another one, he adapted.

Adapting to the situation; the Blackhawks had to do plenty of that on Wednesday night but they found a way. It wont get easier, but the Blackhawks were reminded that, when necessary, the fight is there.

Were trying to get some wins here, get some points and finish out the season strong. But for sure, were desperate, Kane said. Our goal is to make the playoffs. Once we get in we know we can do some damage.

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

The Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has selected Marian Hossa to be the Blackhawks' nominee for the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which recognizes perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The 38-year-old winger has bounced back in a huge way following a 2015-16 campaign where he had only 13 goals and 20 assists in 64 games. 

Hossa is tied for second on the team with 24 goals and ranks sixth on the club with 42 points in 66 contests this season. He ranks fourth among active players with 1,131 points, and recently surpassed Pat Verbeek to move into 35th all-time in goals scored with 523.

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Three finalists from the 30 NHL teams will be named at the end of the regular season.

Pit Martin (1969-70) and Bryan Berard (2003-04) are the only two players in Blackhawks history to win the honor.

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

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The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."