Blackhawks working on powerless power-play

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Blackhawks working on powerless power-play

The Blackhawks special teams have had their ups and downs. Lately their penalty kill has been the former, the power play the latter. But on Thursday night the Blackhawks advantage really was just that.

The Blackhawks went 2 for 3 on the power play in their 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. It was the first time theyd scored more than one power-play goal in a game since Dec. 18, when they went 2 for 7 against the Calgary Flames.

Sure, it was just one game. But since the Blackhawks scored just two power-play goals in their previous eight games combined (out of 26 opportunities), it was a welcome sight.

Yeah, that hasnt been the best overall; that was key, said Steve Montador, who was on the ice for both of then. They changed up the lineups and it seemed to work tonight.

Yep, hide your surprise: of course there were tweaks. But just like in November when the Blackhawks power play got going again, the second unit was a big part of the success. On Thursday, the No. 2 group of Jimmy Hayes, Dave Bolland, Andrew Brunette, Montador and Nick Leddy got both goals.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks didnt need to be too pretty or fancy on the power play. They just needed to be efficient and get bodies in front of the net.

They did that on Thursday. Jimmy Hayes got his big body about three feet in front of Wild goaltender Josh Harding, the perfect place to get Dave Bollands feed from behind the net. Goal. Then it was Bolland cleaning up around the net, beating the Wild to a rebound and backhanding it past Harding. Goal again.

Jimmy scored a big one for our power play, which wasnt pretty up to that point, Quenneville said. When the power plays struggling, net presence and ugly goals are what were looking for. We got one of them that way (from Bolland).

Yes, its just one game. But the Blackhawks struggled with production and confidence on the power play, and Thursdays performance could help reverse those trends.

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

PITTSBURGH — Ryan Hartman has played on the right side of that line for most of this season. Now back in the lineup, he knows he has to stay on it.

Hartman will play after missing Monday's game as a healthy scratch when the Blackhawks face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Hartman took a few bad penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct, against the Florida Panthers last weekend, so he sat vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. The rookie knows he has to get back to the more disciplined hockey he's played most of the season. 

"I don't change my game. I think you take the message and deliver the message," Hartman said. "Obviously, no one likes to not play, everyone wants to play games and no one likes to sit out games. It's definitely something that I took to heart. I'm just going to go out there and just try to play like I've been playing and get on the scoresheet. Just stay off it for the wrong reasons."

Coach Joel Quenneville said Hartman has to stay on the right side of the line.

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"Know there are boundaries and sometimes you get watched a little bit more," Quenneville said. "The way they're calling the game, the way it's being officiated, be respectful. You still have to be hard to play against and find that limit, how far you can push it but you get a good feel on that early in games."

The Penguins are on a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) and are dealing with some injuries. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that, while Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) is close to returning, he won't play against the Blackhawks.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks lines

Nick Schmaltz-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Tanner Kero-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
John Hayden-Dennis Rasmussen-Tomas Jurco

Defensive pairs 

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries 

Artem Anisimov (left leg)

Penguins lines

Conor-Sheary-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Chris Kunitz-Nick Bonino-Patric Hornqvist
Scott Wilson-Carter Rowney-Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl-Oskar Sundqvist-Josh Archibald

Defensive pairs

Brian Dumoulin-Justin Schultz
Ian Cole-Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce-Mark Streit

Goaltender

Marc-Andre Fleury

Injuries

Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), Trevor Daley (knee), Daniel Sprong (shoulder), Jake Guentzel (concussion), Olli Maatta (hand), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (foot), Ron Hainsey (upper body)

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the latest slump and how much does Artem Anisimov's injury play a role in their struggles?

Konroyd tells us he was surprised by Ryan Hartman's benching in Tampa.

The guys play the game, playoff minutes or press box minutes?  They run through the players who are on the bubble when it comes to postseason play.

They also discuss the Hawks chances of overtaking Washington for the President's trophy.

Plus, Konroyd breaks down possible first round opponents: St Louis, Calgary and Nashville.