Former Senators shine in Blackhawks' 'biggest win'

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Former Senators shine in Blackhawks' 'biggest win'

OTTAWA, Ontario The writing was on the wall as the Blackhawks embarked on their latest road trip. They havent been very good away from the United Center, and if they want to do anything in the postseason including get there that had to change.

They took a big stride there on Friday night.

Marian Hossa scored the game-winner for the second consecutive game and Ray Emery stopped 25 shots against his former team as the Blackhawks beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 at ScotiaBank Place. The Blackhawks won their second in a row and remained in sixth place in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks got everything they needed on Friday night, from strong goaltending to great defense to timely goals. They peppered Senators goaltender Robin Lehner with 39 shots, overcoming a 1-0 deficit in the process.

We said to the guys after the game, Thats our biggest win. Its exactly what we wanted, coach Joel Quenneville said. We had everybody going, we had short shifts, had good energy and purpose. We needed a great start to this trip and thats the type of game we wanted.

Patrick Kane, who didnt make the score sheet despite a tremendous game by him and fellow top-liners Andrew Brunette and Hossa, nevertheless loved the outcome.

Thats probably everything you can ask for as a team and we probably couldve scored a couple more goals, too, Kane said. Were shaping up to be a good team. We just have to stay focused.

The top line had plenty of that on Friday, and how they didnt end up with a couple of goals is credit to Lehner and, perhaps, some tough luck.

They missed some A-plus-plus-plus chances, but youve got to love their puck possession and threat off the rush, Quenneville said. It was a dangerous line two games in a row. The finish wasnt there but we loved the way they played.

While the skill was tallying the shots on one end the Blackhawks defense was stymying the Senators on the other. Between the checking line and defensemen, the Blackhawks kept the Senators at bay.

We put tons of pucks at their net, got our chances and did things the right way and really limited their chances, said Emery. We protected our lead well, really let them make their mistakes and still got chances. Its important we won but more important that we won the right way.

Emery took care of the rest, saving some of his biggest stops for the final few minutes when the Senators were looking for an equalizer. Emery felt a little sentimental in returning to Ottawa, but put those feelings aside once the game began.

I played here for a while and had some great times and I still have some good friends on the team, he said. But I realize it was a huge game for the team. Were in a tough spot as far as the playoff battle goes. You have to forget that stuff and focus on the game.

The Blackhawks got a little bit from everyone on Friday. Most important, they got the type of game theyre going to need this spring, especially on the road. On their last multi-game road trip of the regular season, it was an excellent start.

We expect better on the road, Emery said. And its a goal of ours, especially on this trip, to correct that and put that to rest.

Stan Bowman likes Blackhawks prospects' potential to fill holes

Stan Bowman likes Blackhawks prospects' potential to fill holes

The Blackhawks have holes to fill on their roster, especially among the forwards. And general manager Stan Bowman reiterated that the team will look from within to fill them.

“The guys we have are the ones that are here, and our team’s going to come from this group,” said Bowman, who addressed the media on Tuesday. “We’ve only had a few days of camp here but it’s been a bright start. They’re all full of energy, excitement, knowing they have a chance to make the team. Maybe it’s been different than in previous years when they’ve looked at the lineup and wondered where they might fit. And now, they know there’s a possibility they can make the team if they pay well. That’s what these games are going to be, starting tomorrow, we’re going to have an opportunity to see how they perform in a game setting.”

It’s still way too early to say where some of those young players fit; Patrick Kane just joined camp on Tuesday and several other veteran Blackhawks who were playing at the World Cup of Hockey are either still there or just returned from Toronto. But Bowman’s liked what he’s seen from several prospects. Some of them, including Nick Schmaltz, Tyler Motte and Alexandre Fortin, who the Blackhawks signed on Sunday, are expected to play in Wednesday’s preseason opener vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A big concern is still who’s going to play on the top line with Jonathan Toews. Richard Panik and Nick Schmaltz are two possibilities – Schmaltz was on the left side during Tuesday morning’s skate. He’s primarily been a center but, as it usually goes with the Blackhawks, forwards have to be versatile. But Bowman wasn’t sure who would play in that top left-wing spot, or in other spots, at this juncture.

“I think it’s hard to give a direct answer to that because we have to see what Joel [Quenneville] thinks when he gets here, as well,” said Bowman on Quenneville, who’s still with Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey. “We have to see how they perform in the exhibition games. But stability is a nice thing. I think having a familiar line mate can help you in a lot of situations. But as the year goes on, sometimes things get stale or injuries happen. You have to have flexibility for different players to float into those roles.”

North American fun

Bowman himself recently returned from the World Cup of Hockey, where he was co-general manager of Team North America. That group brought a tremendous amount of excitement to the tournament, despite not moving onto the semifinal round.

“It was a blast to be part of that group. I had so much fun. You never know how it’s going to go when you’re first asked to be part of it but we had a great time. It was a treat even to watch those guys in practice.”

Liking Forsling

Bowman has liked what he’s seen from defenseman Gustav Forsling, who’s vying for a spot on the Blackhawks’ roster. Forsling could also return to the Swedish league.

“He was very impressive there [at Traverse City]. I thought comfortable, poised, very talented in both transitioning the offense, making plays. So there's a lot to like there,” Bowman said. “We're certainly going to see how he plays in these exhibition games. Whether he benefitted from going to Sweden? That's a great league, so if he does end up back there, he's going to continue to grow his game. But we haven't made that decision yet. We want to see how things go here.”

Blackhawks: Abbott happy to be back after season in Sweden

Blackhawks: Abbott happy to be back after season in Sweden

Spencer Abbott enjoyed his short stint in Rockford, which came after he was acquired by the Blackhawks in February 2015. At the time, he thought staying here was his most likely plan.

Then he got an offer Frölunda in Sweden.

“I thought, ‘why not give it a shot? Maybe it’ll be a good experience and bring it back with me,’” said Abbott on Monday. “It was worth it, for sure. I have no regrets.”

Abbott, who’s back with the Blackhawks, had never been to Europe prior to getting that Frölunda offer. But his first trip across the pond was a good one as Abbott was part of Frölunda’s run to its Swedish and Champions hockey league titles. Abbott had 14 goals and 21 assists in 51 regular-season games. Abbott got plenty out of the games, but not nearly as much as he did in the team’s training camp.

“The first month and a half you’re over there, you’re there from 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.] every day. I think over here there’s a rule against being here for more than 3-4 hours, but not over there. It’s like a 9-5 job for a month and a half, a lot of working out, a lot of bike riding. So for me, that was good because I had never been in that kind of shape before,” said Abbott, who added he’s trying to incorporate some of that into his routine here. “Training camps here are hard but they’re just different over there. There’s a lot of ice, bigger ice [overseas], so they really condition you. So my conditioning may be a bit better.”

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As much as Abbott loved his time in Sweden, he ultimately wanted to be back in the NHL. So when the Blackhawks offered him a one-year deal, he jumped at it. He’s gotten off to a good start this training camp, scoring a few goals in the team’s early scrimmages.

“I wasn’t sure how it would play out, to be honest. I’m 28 and pretty early in the summer they were showing interest,” Abbott said. “This is one for the places I really wanted to come, because I did l really like the organization when I was here for that brief period of time. Now I get the full effect as long as they’ll have me. It’s such a good organization.”

Abbott probably could have kept playing overseas but he wanted another chance in the NHL. He’s happy it’s once again coming in the Blackhawks’ organization.

“It’s overwhelming. There are so many places to play hockey nowadays in Europe. There are tons of leagues over there. But it didn’t interest me,” he said. “I wanted to come back and give it one more shot.”