Blackhawks' top line, Shaw prove lethal


Blackhawks' top line, Shaw prove lethal

Updated: Sunday, Jan. 15 at 9:39 p.m.

The Blackhawks have had good balanced scoring lately. But ultimately your top guys have to be your top guys.

And on Sunday night, they were.

Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg each scored, as the Blackhawks top line of those two and Patrick Kane was stellar in a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Blackhawks have collected points in their last four games and are back atop the Central Division standings.

Toews, Stalberg and Kane combined for two goals, three assists and 17 of the teams 40 shots on goal, pacing the Blackhawks with a relentless game. Kane couldve easily had more than one assist, especially when former teammate Antti Niemi robbed him in the opening minutes.

I think all of us were kind of feeling it tonight, just holding onto (the puck), Kane said. Going up against their top line of (Joe) Thornton, (Patrick) Marleau and (Joe) Pavelski, you try to keep it away from them. I think we did a good job tonight.

Niemi stopped 36 of 40 against his former team; hes now 4-2-1 against them. Corey Crawford stopped 21 of 24 for the victory.

Dave Bolland also scored and rookie Andrew Shaw added his fourth goal in the seven games hes been with the Blackhawks. Stalberg, who now has 14 goals this season, had another potential score waived off due to a kicking motion.

We definitely had lots of chances; it felt like we couldve scored more Stalberg said of the top line. We had the puck on our stick most of the night, kept their top line from getting the puck.

It was the Sharks first regulation loss since Dec. 26; they went 6-0-2 in their last eight entering Sunday night.

Theyre a tough enough group to play against when youre managing the puck properly, but when you turn it over as many times as we did Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. I dont know if the puck had a Blackhawks logo on it and we thought we had to give it back to them, but we certainly did for at least the first half of the game. I thought their energy guys out-energized our group as well.

But, it wouldnt be a Blackhawks game if it wasnt a tight one. Sharks center and Evanston product Tommy Wingels made it 4-3 with less than five minutes remaining in the third, and then the Blackhawks had to kill off a Sharks 6-on-4 power play for the final 67 seconds.

It got a little scary there at the end, defenseman Duncan Keith said. (Crawford) made some big saves and we did a good job of staying tight, blocking guys out and taking away some of their lanes to get shots.

The Blackhawks took three of four on this back-to-back weekend against tough opponents. Theyve gotten a little bit of everything from everyone and got the best from their top guys on Sunday night.

Yesterday we didnt get the start we wanted to but Id say we carried that third period that we had yesterday right into today and had a great first tonight, Toews said. All in all we kept working. Its fun when we play the type of game like that.

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

When considering the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, you can look at their 3-3-1 record in two ways: their record is mediocre because of it, or they’re still getting points despite it.

No matter how you look at it, however, the penalty kill’s malaise has to stop.

In seven games this season, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has allowed 14 goals on 26 opportunities. Through their first seven games last season the Blackhawks were shorthanded 18 times, allowing three goals.

Looking at seasons overall, the Blackhawks allowed 46 power-play goals over 82 games last season. The kill allowed a scant 35 goals during the 2014-15 season and 46 goals in 2013-14.

Yes, the Blackhawks know it’s a big problem and they’ve talked about it and worked on it. So far, they just haven’t seen the results on it. Some have come off faceoffs. Some have come from long distance. Some have come off rebounds. It doesn’t seem to matter what they do: goals get scored. The Blackhawks will keep going back to the drawing board until they restore that penalty kill to its normal success rate.

“We talk a lot about the way we’re forcing it up ice, how we’re forcing it in the neutral zone, forcing entries, how we’re moving together as units, the personnel changes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve tried a number of different looks on the back end, as pairs up front. We’re trying to find something that clicks. we haven’t gotten that confidence yet where we’re comfortable with just about any pairs right now. hopefully we can get that stabilized.

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“We know the importance of that influencing the outcome of games and sometimes it can win a game for us. But it’s been a real negative so far,” Quenneville added. “We got through three in a row there. hopefully that’s the start of something positive.”

The Blackhawks killed off the final three penalties they took against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. It was a shot of confidence for a group that needed it, and now they have to repeat that more often.

“We just kept our feet moving. We were working. Our shifts were 20 to 30 seconds tops,” Jonathan Toews said. “When you go that short you have the energy to outwork the power play and make up for being down one man. Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the key right there, and I think our systems fall into place when we’re all moving and we’re all skating the right way.”

Artem Anisimov said those three successful kills were “intense.”

“We were skating. We didn’t give so much time to set up in our zone,” Ansimov said. “It was like, always clear. We cleared the puck 200 feet and it was successful.”

The Blackhawks have been talking “baby steps” regarding their penalty kill the past few games. Killing three in a row off on Monday night could be one, but it means nothing if they allow another one in their next game. The penalty kill is broken. The Blackhawks will keep trying to fix it.

Check out Jonathan Toews' scary Halloween costume

Check out Jonathan Toews' scary Halloween costume

Jonathan Toews isn't doing himself any favors of trying to drop the Captain Serious nickname that has stuck with him since 2008.

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The Blackhawks captain and his girlfriend dressed up for a Halloween party on Tuesday night, and their costumes were on point:

Mr. and Mrs. Dead Serious. 💀👻☠️#happyhalloween

A photo posted by Jonathan Toews (@jonathantoews) on

We wonder how long it took to wash that paint off their face.