Blackhawks survive see-saw affair in shootout


Blackhawks survive see-saw affair in shootout

The Blackhawks defensive game still isnt where it needs to be; but sometimes you take the two points and go from there.

Jonathan Toews scored a short-handed goal in regulation, then added the shootout winner in the Blackhawks 5-4 decision over the New York Islanders at the United Center. The Blackhawks have now won three of their last four games and are tied with Detroit for the second-most points in the Western Conference (33).

But it got interesting in the third period, when a determined Islanders team outshot the Blackhawks 23-7. The Blackhawks had given up just 15 shots in the previous two periods.

The first 10 minutes we took it to them; then that third period we got away from it again. Its something we need to address, said defenseman Sean ODonnell, who assisted on Andrew Brunettes goal in the first period. The win was nice, but its not the kind of hockey we want to play.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the better defense was there in the first two periods but panic seemed to set in during that third.

We have to be more composed, particularly when the games on the line in our own end, he said. The D-zone coverage got way out of sorts. We need to tighten it up and trust we have to play our own positions. We really ran around there in the third. We didnt like the way we played in our own end for sure.

The Blackhawks got enough offense on the other side to force shootout. Ben Smith scored his first of the season and Patrick Sharp added a power-play goal in the third. Toews, who has been stellar this past month, bested Islanders goaltender and Chicago-area native Al Montoya with a wrister in the shootout.

Corey Crawford, who stopped 37 of 41 in regulation -- including 21 of 23 in the third period stopped two of the Islanders shootout attempts. Matt Moulson hit the post on his shot.

No, it wasnt a comfortable victory. The Blackhawks are still giving up a lot of offense to teams that usually dont score much. The Islanders are currently ranked last in the league in goals per game with 2.04, and thats including tonights game.

They found a way to win on Friday. But they know defensive problems still exist. The more they tighten things up, the less theyll be sweating these out.

(There were) just a couple little mistakes that we have to get after and learn from, especially late in that game where were protecting a lead. If we do that, well be a little more relaxed, a little more comfortable in the third period trying to go for two points, Toews said. Either way, we found a way to win, and get two points. We just have to be better in those certain areas.

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

The Blackhawks hit the road on Thursday, and they did so in style.

In support of the Cubs participating in the World Series for the first time since 1945, each member of the Blackhawks sported a Cubs jersey and World Series hat as they hopped onto the plane and traveled to New Jersey.

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It may not have been as whacky as Joe Maddon's themed road trips, but it's still a perfect excuse for breaking the dress code just this once.

Check out the photos below:

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

When coach Joel Quenneville has put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together it’s usually been during the postseason.

It’s rare when it happens in the regular season and when it does, it seems like an in-case-of-emergency move. But in this case, it may be more of a get-the-captain’s-production-going move.

The Blackhawks made a few more line changes on Thursday, including combining Toews and Kane, as they prepared for Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Marian Hossa moved to right wing on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. Marcus Kruger and Nick Schmaltz flip-flopped as third- and fourth-line centers. Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman were the third-line wings while Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo were on the fourth line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the line changes, including Kane’s move to the first line, were because the Blackhawks continue to look for balance. To a point, that’s true; the Blackhawks still haven’t come close to getting that four-line rotation with which they’ve found so much success. But considering how successful the Toews and Kane combination has been for each, you’d have to think it’s to help bolster Toews’ point totals. Toews has just two assists through the first seven games.

“Right now I think Jonny, his production isn’t where you look at his play – we still always like the way he plays, he’s so useful in so any different ways,” Quenneville said. “I think maybe we get more balance on both lines. We’ve been trying a number of different looks in our top two groups there. over seven games we still need to be better in a lot of ways. hopefully we can find it.”

Still, if you can get your top players producing points, it’s worth a try. And Kane and Toews, regardless of how long they’ve been apart, usually click immediately upon reuniting.

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“Yeah, I guess change can be good in this sense. We can probably produce a little bit more offense and have the puck a little bit more throughout the game,” Kane said. “I’ve played with Jonny a bunch before. Obviously, not as much lately. But I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a fun way to play hockey. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the game, and probably in my mind, the easiest player to play with. It’ll be fun to get back out there with him and try to create something, try to produce and have some fun with it.”

As for that usual second line of Panarin, Anisimov and Kane, remember: as we’ve seen before, it can be put together again fast.

“They get a lot of shifts and a lot of looks. It’s not like we’re too far away from going back to it at any time. It’s always close and available,” Quenneville said. “Maybe we get more balance and a little more scoring across the board.”


- Defenseman Gustav Forsling (upper body) did not skate on Thursday and will not travel to New Jersey. Quenneville is still hoping Forsling can play on Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

- Forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) continues to improve. Quenneville said Desjardins could be skating in the next day or so.

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Devils.