Hawks get Coach Q 600th win; Seabrook 'seems OK'

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Hawks get Coach Q 600th win; Seabrook 'seems OK'

The Blackhawks have had a successful formula working lately: good defense and goaltending and across-the-board scoring contributions. It was working again on Sunday night.

Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist and Joel Quenneville got his 600th career coaching victory in the Blackhawks 4-2 triumph over the Calgary Flames. The Blackhawks have now won five games in a row and seven of their last eight.

But it came with a scary moment early. Brent Seabrook was hit from behind by Rene Bourque late in the first period and did not return. Quenneville said Seabrook seemed not bad after the game.

Well find out more tomorrow. I just talked to him. He seemed all right, he seemed OK, said Quenenville, who is hopeful that Seabrook can make the trip to Pittsburgh for Tuesdays game.

Still, another high hit on Seabrook, who has had three head injuries already in his NHL career, was a concern.

When a guys got his back turned and you have more speed than him, it comes down to respect, said Jonathan Toews, who added he saw the hit as it happened but hadnt seen a replay yet. Head shots and head injuries arent going anywhere if we keep making plays like that, and that goes for everyone in the league.

Meanwhile, it was business as usual for the Blackhawks, who helped Quenneville become the second-fastest coach to reach 600 NHL victories (in 1,114 games). Toews presented Quenneville with the game puck afterward.

I just told them, what it means is Im getting old, Quenneville joked. Ive been with some good teams and some great organizations. Im fortunate in a lot of ways. Im in a great spot here.

And for the most part, he likes how the Blackhawks are playing right now. The offensive balance was there again, as four different Blackhawks scored. Hossa, Patrick Kane and Steve Mondator scored, as did Niklas Hjalmarsson, who got his first of the season.

I had a couple of good shots today, but sometimes they go in and sometimes they dont, Hjalmarsson said. I had a couple of good shots before, this season that just havent really gone in. So sometimes you have luck on your side.

The Blackhawks also got on top early again, something theyve made a point of doing in recent games. And despite losing Seabrook, the five remaining Blackhawks defensemen were strong through the rest of the game.

I just think it gives everyone that much more confidence in their own job, said Duncan Keith, who logged 28:33 of ice time, five shots on goal, three blocked shots and an assist. Sometimes a little save or a small play can make a huge difference in the game. Its given our team a lot of confidence.

The Blackhawks just keep rolling along. After a ho-hum November theyre now 7-0-1 in December. Theyve got a league-leading 46 points.

I just think were doing all the small things really well, said Hjalmarsson. Were getting pucks deep, forwards back-checked really hard and the (defense) got the puck out of our own zone. Were just real careful out there the way we play, and we play hard.

Briefly

Patrick Sharp had an assist, extending his point streak to a career-long nine games (7 goals, 6 assists). It is also the longest streak in the NHL this season.

Hossas goal and assist gives him a five-game point streak (4 goals, 6 assists).

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Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

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USA TODAY

Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

PITTSBURGH – Well, that looked more familiar, didn’t it?

The Blackhawks put talk into action on Wednesday night, storming out to an early lead and never letting up in a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re sitting in a good spot right now, sporting a nine-point lead over the Minnesota Wild – yes the Wild still has that game in hand – and, with five games remaining, they once again played the complete game they’d been missing.

The schedule doesn’t let up, so let’s get to the notables.

What Worked: The Blackhawks’ first period. If there’s such thing as a statement 20 minutes, the Blackhawks made it in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins made a bad pass, the Blackhawks turned it into an opportunity and, a few times, a goal. The Blackhawks had a similarly sharp first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. On Wednesday, however, they didn’t lose any steam later.

What Didn’t Work: The power play. Yeah, you really have to reach to find something that didn’t work for the Blackhawks in this one. Their power play, however, didn’t do much. Their best chance on it was a Jonathan Toews shot on their second power play; that shot was blocked before it got to Marc-Andre Fleury. Their third power play, which came on a phantom tripping call on Conor Sheary, was their quietest of the night.

Star of the game: Tanner Kero. The kid’s been alright at second-line center, and he did a little bit of everything on Wednesday night. Kero had five shots on goal, the secondary assist on Artemi Panarin’s early goal and added a breakaway goal of his own early in the third period. He also won five of 11 faceoffs. Centering Patrick Kane and Panarin could be daunting but in his short time there, Kero’s handling it very well.

He Said It: “It’s a nice opportunity that he’s taken advantage of in a short amount of time. You get a little more defensive responsibility. The upside with him is we wanted him to get better offensively as well, so it’s been a good couple of games.” Coach Joel Quenneville on Kero.

By the Numbers: 

850 – Career coaching victories for Quenneville.

524 – Career goals for Marian Hossa, who scored his 25th of the season late in the first period.

39 – Time, in seconds, in which the Blackhawks scored two goals late in the first period (Marcus Kruger at 19:05 and Marian Hossa at 19:44).

6 – Consecutive victories for the Blackhawks over the Penguins. They’ve outscored the Penguins 20-8 over that span.