Hawks doubled up in Edmonton

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Hawks doubled up in Edmonton

EDMONTON, Alberta The Blackhawks talked Wednesday and Thursday morning about getting even against the Oilers up here. They heard the chants of Lets get 10 during their 9-2 loss here in November and didnt like it.

But for all the talk before the game, not much changed during it.

Corey Crawford was pulled in the third period and Sam Gagner tied a franchise record with eight points as the Chicago Blackhawks fell to the Edmonton Oilers 8-4 at Rexall Place. The Blackhawks are now 0-3-1 in their last four, as they failed to gain any ground in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Gagner was just part of the problem for the Blackhawks, who were once again victimized by the Oilers. Crawford allowed a few bad ones, including a Cam Barker goal, before he was pulled. Ray Emery didnt fare much better, allowing three on 13 shots. It was another night where team defense disintegrated against an Oilers team all too anxious to take advantage.

Forget about payback, forget about all that stuff. It doesnt matter how we win the game; we just didnt do the right things at all, Jonathan Toews said. Again, it was an easy game for tier top players. We let them do whatever they wanted, tap-ins left and right and we hung our goaltenders out to dry.

Patrick Sharp, who scored two goals for the Blackhawks, concurred.

Yeah, forget payback and all that stuff, he said. We wanted to come out and play a good game and talked all season long what makes us a good team is playing a defense-first, check-first mentality. Thats how we create scoring chances. We did that to start the game but somewhere along the line we got away from it.

Crawford, coming off a strong game in Vancouver on Tuesday night, bore much of the onus for this one.

Our guys deserved better than me, he said. I dont know what happened. Its frustrating. Everyone here is pissed off.

His first goal, to Taylor Hall, wasnt a good one to give up. The Blackhawks were up 2-0 at the time and had much of the momentum.

We did some good things until they scored the first goal and then we got out of what we wanted to do, coach Joel Quenneville said. They like to score, they like to go off the rush, they like to attack and we cant play that way. We have to be more patient. They played run and gun and they were better than us by a long margin.

The ripple effect was evident. Team defense broke down and the Blackhawks didnt help themselves by continually going to the penalty box -- Edmonton had seven power plays, scoring on one.

We have to play together. We have to play all along the same page. When we start thinking about trying to outscore teams it backfires, said Duncan Keith. Good teams, when they lose games theyre in every game. We were in this one (early), but once we get up a goal or two we start forgetting how to play.

The Blackhawks have talked about playing a team game all season. When they do, theyre tough to beat. And at this time of the season especially, they need that again.

Corey Crawford bounces back with 42 saves in Blackhawks’ shootout win over Stars

Corey Crawford bounces back with 42 saves in Blackhawks’ shootout win over Stars

Patrick Kane scored his 33rd goal of the season and Artemi Panarin scored the shootout winner as the Blackhawks beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Thursday night.

The Blackhawks now have an eight-point lead over the Minnesota Wild, who lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1.

Corey Crawford stopped 42 of 44 shots in the victory while Ales Hemsky scored both for the Stars.

The Blackhawks once again didn't look quite like themselves in this one, something that's been a trend the last few games. Crawford was improved from Tuesday, when he was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots. He was stellar, especially in overtime when the Stars came up with some outstanding opportunities.

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Kane's goal, on the Blackhawks' first power play of the night, gave them a lead 8:13 into the game. That held until midway through the second period when Hemsky scored his first of the night to tie it.

It was quiet for a while after that until Marian Hossa, with Marcus Kruger cutting to the front of the net, laced one through Kari Lehtonen for a 2-1 lead at 8:37 of the third. But Hemsky's second of the night tied it 2-2 with 5:09 remaining in regulation.

Kane and Panarin got shootout attempts past Lehtonen while Tyler Seguin got the Stars' lone attempt past Crawford.

Ed Belfour reflects on fulfilling 'childhood dream' of playing for Blackhawks

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AP

Ed Belfour reflects on fulfilling 'childhood dream' of playing for Blackhawks

While Troy Murray was attending summer school at the University of North Dakota he was also working out in offseason skates and practices there. Getting goaltenders for those skates wasn't easy. But a guy from Carman, Manitoba would drive down to Grand Forks, N.D., play in those games and then drive back home that night.

That guy was Eddie Belfour.

"He'd come in, put his gear on, and we thought this was just some kid that came from somewhere and, ‘Hey, thanks for coming, kid.' Little did we know, that's how he was making himself better," said Murray, who would later play with Belfour with the Blackhawks. "He walked onto UND, made there and the rest is history in how good he was at the collegiate level and as a pro."

The drive was there for Belfour then and it lasted throughout his career, which included eight seasons with the Blackhawks, a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2002 Olympics and a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999. On Thursday night the Blackhawks honored Belfour in their latest installment of "One More Shift."

For Belfour, it was a chance to be back where it all started – "it's always emotional coming back to Chicago. I had a lot of great times here," he said – with his favorite childhood team.

"The fans are always fantastic for me here in Chicago. I'll never forget the "Eddie, Eddie" chant. They're the ones who started it," Belfour said prior to taking his shift. "For me, getting a chance to play in Chicago stadium in front of the fans and how close they were and how loud the building was and the anthem was amazing. It was boyhood dream come true."

Ask Belfour's former teammates how best to describe the goaltender and the answer was pretty unanimous: intense.

"Intense is a good word. I think competitive is a really good word, too, because he was one of the few guys, few goalies who took working out very seriously [then]," Steve Konroyd said. "He used to train for triathlons, and this was in the late 80s, early 90s. For NHL players that was probably odd, but for NHL goaltenders that was crazy. He was ultra-competitive, different in ways but in a good way. He was a real character."

Denis Savard said Belfour's preparation for games was, "second to none."

"He always came prepared for a game, from focusing on that night and sharpening his own skates. He'd work on his own skates after practices sometimes for two hours. He was very meticulous about everything," Savard said. "We already know goaltenders are on their own program with how they prepare, but he was a special one. He was a battler, he was a winner and he was a great goalie for a long time."

Murray would face Belfour in 1996, when Murray was with the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche and Belfour was still with the Blackhawks. Patrick Roy got the best of that postseason series (Belfour led the Stars past the Avalanche in 1999 and 2000 playoff matchups). But Murray remembers Roy's confidence no matter who was in the other net, and Belfour had that same mentality.

"You need that as a goaltender. You want that challenge," Murray said. "You have to have that mindset because if you think you're second best, you're not going to succeed. That's what drives all these great players and Eddie had that mindset."

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For Belfour, those Chicago days were bittersweet. His first trip to the Stanley Cup final came with the Blackhawks. There were a lot of great times. There were a lot of tough times. But it was all worth it.

"Going to the Stanley Cup final was awesome to do in my first couple of years. Unfortunately, we didn't win and that's probably my biggest regret is that we didn't play well. It still haunts me some days," Belfour said. "But that happens sometimes when you're a younger player and you learn from it and get better. That's what I tried to do."

Belfour's body of work speaks for itself. The kid who first started honing his craft in pickup games at North Dakota had a tremendous NHL career. As for that competitiveness, he's still got it – even in jest.

"I was joking, ‘If I'm doing this [One More Shift], I gotta play at least five minutes,'" he said.