Hawks finally prevail in shootout, earn extra point

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Hawks finally prevail in shootout, earn extra point

Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011
Posted 5:22 p.m. Updated 6:50 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks watched the opposition score another late third-period goal, erasing another slim, late third-period lead.

But instead of succumbing to another missed opportunity to get points, the Blackhawks seized this one.

Patrick Sharp scored his 31st goal of the season and Patrick Kane scored the shootout winner and the Blackhawks beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. The Blackhawks came away with four of six points on this three-game homestand. Theyre still in 11th place, but just two points out of eighth.

WATCH: Sharp defends Kane

Its a good feeling thats for sure, said Sharp, whos now just five goals shy of his career-best 36 he scored in the 2007-08 season. But we cant look at taking two of three and being satisfied. We have to approach every game as a must-win. It shows out there on the ice in critical situations.

Bryan Bickell also scored and Corey Crawford stopped 24 of 26 in regulation, and all three Penguins shootout offerings, for the victory.

It was another reminder that nothing comes easy at this juncture of the season.

I just think everybodys on the same playing field in this league. Youre fighting for every inch, every point, no matter whether youre in the east or west, acting coach Mike Haviland said. It was a gutsy effort and the way we need to play going into (Monday).

Still, it didnt come without its drama. The Penguins were without top players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin but they came with a hard-working game. Matt Cooke scored a short-handed goal early and Brett Sterling punched home a rebound shot with less than four minutes remaining in regulation to tie it 2-2.
Patrick Sharp reacts after scoring his 31st goal of the season in the first period against the Penguins. Since being paired on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, Sharp has scored four goals in his last five games. (AP)
But Kane came through with the shootout winner, wristing it to Marc-Andre Fleurys right after the Penguins goaltender went left.

WATCH: Kane describes new shootout move

Sometimes when you miss a few in a row (in the shootout) you want to change it up a bit, said Kane, who was coming off a three-point night against Columbus on Friday. I just tried to come down the middle and pull him to the one side and bring it back. Im happy it worked, obviously.

Its just that time of year where nothings going to come easy. The Blackhawks have been dealing with that all season, so theyre definitely ready for the pressures that come with the playoff push.

Nothings been easy all year, Crawford said. It seems like weve been playing these games all year and were just getting better because of it. Hopefully it continues.
Johnson returns

Ryan Johnson came off injured reserve on Sunday morning from his concussion, and added a boost for the Blackhawks, especially on the penalty kill. Johnson, who logged 11:22 of ice time, blocked two shots and, more important, won nine of 12 faceoffs.

For sure (he was key) and it starts with the faceoffs, Haviland said. RJ came in and did a great job. We blocked a lot of shots, we were in lanes. Were going to need that PK down the stretch.

Q at home

Coach Joel Quenneville returned home on Saturday after spending a few days in the hospital getting treated for an ulcer. Haviland said they talked prior to the game and Jonathan Toews said he sent Quenneville a couple of texts.

I dont want to bother him too much, Jonathan Toews said. Hes doing well and were happy to hear that. If he could, hed be right back here as fast as he could. But the important thing is he gets healthy and be ready to do his job the best he can.

Its been a trying week for the Blackhawks, who have had Quennevilles health on their minds while battling for a playoff spot. Toews credited Haviland with the job hes done in Quennevilles absence.

Its not an easy situation to be in, Toews said. He was able to take over and did a great job of getting us through that. Hopefully we get Q back soon but well keep working no matter what.

Briefly

Fernando Pisani (head), Nick Boynton and John Scott (healthy) were the scratches on Sunday.

Sundays attendance of 22,195 was the highest for a Blackhawks game this season.

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

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

The Minnesota Wild have been chasing the Blackhawks for a long time.

They may not be so far away now.

After falling behind 2-0, the Wild scored three unanswered goals to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 at the United Center on Sunday night, and moved into sole possession of first place in the Central Division and Western Conference with 61 points, and still have four games in hand.

But even the Wild had to remind themselves that they're on the same playing surface as the Blackhawks, who eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs for three consecutive seasons from 2013-15, two of which were en route to Stanley Cup wins.

"We were pretty slow," coach Bruce Boudreau said about the team's first period. "I thought we were in a little bit of quick sand. We watched them play. I think it was a little bit more [we were] in awe. It's the Chicago Blackhawks, we're supposed to be in awe."

When they snapped out of it, the Wild looked like the team that has become one of the NHL's best, having now won 17 of their last 19 games.

Wild nemesis Patrick Kane scored the game's first two goals, but Minnesota displayed the type of resiliency every contender needs by evening it up in the second period thanks to a power-play goal by Nino Neiderreiter — his third goal in as many games — and Chris Stewart, who found the back of the net for the second consecutive contest.

Jason Pominville, who hadn't scored in 19 straight games, registered the game-winner early in the third period to cap off a Wild victory. It's Minnesota's eighth straight win against Chicago, a feat that even its coach can't explain.

"To beat this team eight times in a row is really something," Boudreau said. "I don't understand how you could do it. I wish I would have had that knowledge a couple years ago. But it's a new year and it's just one in a row right now."

That's one of many reasons why the Wild have been so successful this season. They're taking it one game at a time, and no matter what the score is, they continue to play the same way and have the belief they can win any game.

Less than 24 hours before their win over the Blackhawks, the Wild jumped out to a 4-0 lead in Dallas and squandered it in the third period. They found a way to bounce back, however, to take home a 5-4 victory in regulation.

So, how do they keep doing it?

"I don't know," Boudreau responded. "We're supposed to. If you want to win, you've got to come back, right? You got to believe. I think the biggest thing is believing you can, and that's the first step. If you don't believe you can come back, you never come back. If you always believe there's a chance, there's a good chance you can do it."

Said Stewart: "I just think we're a confident bunch. We believe in ourselves. We know we didn't get the start that we wanted, but we got one to crawl back in it and all this team needs is a little bit of life."

There's no better measuring stick than to beat a team in your division that's won three championships since 2010, and has been powerhouses in the West for nearly a decade.

And it's something the Wild hope — and believe — they're in the process of achieving.

"It's always a big rival," Neiderreiter said. "You always want to beat the Hawks. They won a few Stanley Cup in the past few years, and that's something we want to accomplish someday. To do that, we have to make sure we beat top teams like that."

Five Things from Blackhawks-Wild: Start strong, finish fizzles

Five Things from Blackhawks-Wild: Start strong, finish fizzles

Well, that weekend didn't go as planned.

The Blackhawks played a lot better on Sunday night but suffered the same fate as Friday, coming away with no points and losing first place in the Western Conference in their 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Let's dispense with the frivolities. Here are Five Things to take away from the Blackhawks' loss to Minnesota.

1. Strong start. The Blackhawks needed to come out strong in this one, mainly because their Friday game against the Washington Capitals was so bad but also because the Wild were coming off a frenzied 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. The Blackhawks got the appropriate start, outshooting the Wild 14-8 and leading 1-0 on Patrick Kane's goal. Speaking of which… 

2. Kane with the great evening. The Blackhawks dressing seven defensemen meant one thing: Kane was probably going to get a lot of ice time. That he did, double-shifting with the second and fourth lines in the first period and giving the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead with first- and second-period goals. Kane finished with a career-high 12 shots on goal in 27:09 of ice time. "You know you're going to play a lot. I don't know if [27] minutes is that amount you want to be playing, but at the same time, you're not going to say no when he calls you to go out there too," Kane said.

3. The Wild respond in the second. Minnesota didn't have the best start but they regained momentum and erased a deficit in the second period. It's not that their chances were that much better than the Blackhawks – it was a fairly even period in every way, from shots on goal (16-15 Blackhawks) to overall play. But coach Joel Quenneville didn't like how the Blackhawks played on Nino Niederreiter or Chris Stewart's goals, calling the mistakes made on them, "cardinal sins."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Quiet night for the top line. Outside of Marian Hossa, the Blackhawks' top line didn't do much on Sunday night. Hossa had two shots on goal. Jonathan Toews had none, as it was another too-quiet night for the Blackhawks' captain. 

5. Minnesota keeps the rivalry edge. Remember those three consecutive springs in which the Blackhawks dispatched the Wild? Well, the past two seasons may not be equal in payback terms but the Wild are nevertheless tilting the rivalry – at least in regular-season games – in their favor. The Wild won all five games last season and took the first of this season, as well. Minnesota made some good offseason moves, including acquiring Eric Staal in July. Full marks to the Wild: right now, they are the cream of the Western Conference crop.