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.

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?"