Captain carries Hawks to fourth straight victory

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Captain carries Hawks to fourth straight victory

Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011
Posted 8:48 p.m. Updated 10:14 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks are finding ways to get points right now.

Thats good, because the way the Western Conference standings continue to play out, theyre going to need every single one they can get.

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Jonathan Toews scored two goals in regulation and the shootout winner, and Marian Hossa also scored as the Blackhawks took a 4-3 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday night. The Blackhawks, who have now won four in a row and five of their last six, are one of four teams with 72 points. Theyre currently listed in ninth place.

It wasnt the most comfortable win for the Blackhawks, who twice had two-goal leads on the Coyotes. But it served its purpose nonetheless.

We know its always going to be close coming into third periods. Its pretty simple what weve got to do better, said Toews. We come out with good starts, we get a couple goals. Its right there in front of us. We just have to carry that effort right through the third.

The Blackhawks didnt, however, as they got into penalty trouble in the second period and their kill wasnt effective. Phoenix fired back with two goals within six minutes of each other, both on the power play, to tie it up 3-3.

There are some areas we can be better, right from the faceoff (on Phoenixs second power play) that ended up in our net, said coach Joel Quenneville. We still had a good third period.

The Blackhawks stymied Phoenix in that period, allowing just five shots while they fired 12 at Ilya Bryzgalov, who stopped 38 of 41 in the loss.
Corey Crawford gets his left pad over to the post before Radim Vrbata can get the puck past him in the shootout. Crawford admitted he wasn't sharp against Phoenix, but felt better in the shootout. (AP)
Corey Crawford stopped 26 of 29 and all three Phoenix shootout attempts for the victory. It looked like Crawford was screened on one or two of the goals he allowed against the Coyotes, but the netminder said he wasnt having his best night, either.

I didnt feel the greatest tonight moving laterally, Crawford said. I wasnt as sharp as usual. I felt good in the shootout though.

The Blackhawks found a way to pull another one out. They had their glitches, for sure, but theyre keeping with the pack.

We understand the situation and were battling more, said Duncan Keith, who played a team-high 30:33 against Phoenix. We need those points and it shows in how were playing. Were a lot happier with the way weve been playing. Theres still more there, another level we can get to, but as the games go by here weve tried to get points out of games and were doing that. We have to keep doing that.

Hendry injured

Jordan Hendry went down in the opening minutes of the third after taking a hit from Shane Doan along the boards. Hendry, favoring his left leg, needed help getting off the ice and into the locker room.

Quenneville said theyll look at where he is Monday and whether or not they need to call up another defenseman. In his absence the five remaining defensemen had to play some extra minutes. Quenneville was pleased with the results, especially with rookie Nick Leddy, who played just over 23 minutes.

Nick Leddy had a special game tonight, he said. I thought he was quick with the puck, he made several elusive moves where passes leaving our zone were tape to tape. Hes absorbing quality minutes. He and Duncs are forming a solid pair for us. I like the trend hes on right now.

Briefly

Hossas goal was his 15th of the season.

Fernando Pisani and John Scott were the healthy scratches on Sunday night.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Avalanche tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Avalanche tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Colorado Avalanche tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Keep it simple.

There is no team in the league that scores fewer goals per game (2.00) and allows more goals per game (3.32) than the Avalanche, who are 4-18-1 in their last 23 games, including 1-7-0 in their past eight. The Blackhawks need to keep it simple, get bodies in front of the net and take advantage on special teams against a team that ranks in the bottom-seven in both the power play and penalty kill.

2. Will Jonathan Toews' success against Colorado continue?

It's been a tough year for the Blackhawks captain, who has only seven goals and 21 points in 37 games, including three points in his last seven. Earlier this season he went 13 consecutive games without a goal, and snapped that on Dec. 23 against Colorado in a 2-1 overtime loss. He recorded a season-high seven shots on goal in that game, and has scored a goal in each of his last four contests against the Avalanche. They seem to be his slumpbuster, so perhaps he'll come through again.

3. Marian Hossa's impact.

In the first meeting of the season, Hossa scored two goals in a 4-0 win over Colorado. In the second, the Blackhawks were without him after he was sidelined with an upper-body injury, and fell 2-1 in overtime. The Blackhawks are nearly at full strength this time around, with Marcus Kruger the lone injured player who's recovering from an apparent hand injury.

4. Nathan MacKinnon.

After a solid showing at the World Cup of Hockey last fall, MacKinnon was considered a strong candidate to have a breakout season with a new head coach that preaches an up-tempo style of play, right up MacKinnon's ally. But he hasn't reached that level yet, with 28 points in 41 games. Not bad, but not great by his standards as the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. He scored the overtime winner and added an assist in last month's victory against Chicago at the United Center.

5. Short shifts.

This will be the third meeting of the year between the two teams, but the first one in Colorado. Due to the high altitude in the Mile-High City, expect Joel Quenneville to distribute the minutes more evenly throughout their four lines and intstruct the Blackhawks to be short with their shifts, no longer than 40 seconds.

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Blackhawks' rough weekend 'a little bit of a wake-up call'

Blackhawks' rough weekend 'a little bit of a wake-up call'

Patrick Kane was summing up the Blackhawks' weekend, one that didn't go well in terms of points.

"Good way to kind of judge ourselves, where we're at," he said Sunday night. "Might be a little bit of a wake-up call to see how good we really are."

Well, in a way, it is. You can't really compare Friday's loss to Washington and Sunday's loss to Minnesota on performance; the Blackhawks didn't show up for the first game and were much better in the second. Nevertheless, it was the same result in each. The Blackhawks' lengthy hold on first place in the Western Conference ended, with the Wild taking over following Sunday's 3-2 victory.

It's not a sound-the-alarm situation, but the Blackhawks are certainly cognizant of the missed opportunity last weekend and that they came up short against the league's best.

Artem Anisimov agreed with Kane's assessment.

"We just need to play better. All four lines need to play better in all areas of the ice. Just be better in the little things," Anisimov said. "Back check, put stick in the right position, box the guy out, short shifts. All little things need to be better."

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Many of the little things that were absent against the Capitals were back against the Wild. But coach Joel Quenneville wasn't happy with mistakes made on goals allowed, especially the first two. And while Kane and the second line were a consistent scoring threat against the Wild, the other three lines weren't. It's a problem that's plagued the Blackhawks a good deal this season, even when they were stringing together victories.

There is no reason to think that, because of this weekend's results, the Blackhawks are going to falter against strong teams. They've done well against others already this season. They beat Montreal earlier this season, when the Canadiens were healthy and steamrolling everyone. They beat the New York Rangers when the Rangers and former Blackhawks backup goaltender Antti Raanta were on their respective hot streaks.

Still, Kane's analysis is correct: This should get the Blackhawks' attention. The Wild have beaten the Blackhawks in eight consecutive regular-season games now and will face them three more times this season. They have two more meetings with the Edmonton Oilers, who beat them soundly in November.

The Blackhawks' long reign atop the Western Conference standings is over. They’re currently second in the Central Division, with an eight-point cushion over the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks have done fairly well this season. But this weekend was a reminder that they can be better.

"The game (on Friday) was kind of like a shock to the system thinking maybe you're one of the top teams in the league, or being able to compete with one of the top teams, and we obviously got thoroughly outplayed. We came back (Sunday night). It was pretty even in chances. We might've even had more so, just kind of didn't pull it out," Kane said. "But (when) you've played two of the better teams in the league and lose, there's got to be room for improvement, right?"