Hawks ground Hurricanes for seventh straight

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Hawks ground Hurricanes for seventh straight

Friday, March 4, 2011
Posted: 10:02 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

In their last two victories, the Chicago Blackhawks held on after allowing more third-period goals than they wouldve liked. On Friday, they were scoring most of them instead.

Five different Blackhawks scored goals, with Ryan Johnson, Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane recording theirs in the third period, as they beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 at the United Center on Friday night. The Blackhawks have now won seven in a row, their longest winning streak since November of 2009, and at head into Saturday in fourth place in the Western Conference.

Theyre just four points (78) behind third-place San Jose (82).

The Blackhawks had a 2-1 lead entering the third on Friday as opposed to the three-goal leads theyve had their previous two games. But on this night, the Blackhawks didnt get into defensive mode to stave off the Hurricanes. They kept pushing, getting three goals within four minutes and 28 seconds of each other. Johnson, who scored his first of the season, and Bollands goals were just 67 seconds apart.

Its something weve talked about for a while, just keeping our foot on the gas and tonight we did that, said Duncan Keith. Its nice to finish strong there in the third, something we didnt do in the last couple games.

Jonathan Toews is now on a season-long eight-game scoring streak after he tallied his 26th goal just 55 seconds into the game. Bryan Bickell also scored and Corey Crawford stopped 18-of-20 for his seventh consecutive victory.

We keep getting a ton of chances and score a ton of goals. For a goaltender, thats kind of nice when the guys are scoring that many, Crawford said. Weve been good all year, especially offensively. That hasnt really changed.

Newly acquired defenseman Chris Campoli added two assists, including the primary one when he led the charge on Johnsons goal.

Im just reading the play, said Campoli, whos already made a solid pair with Brian Campbell. He gave me the room and Im just taking what they give me and I guess maybe its that I feel more comfortable.

For the Blackhawks, the third-period barrage was just one high point. They got balanced scoring throughout their lines. They were also stellar in the faceoff circle, winning 47-of-66 draws. Johnson won 14-of-19, Toews took 13-of-18 and Jake Dowell was 11-of-12.

That was a big night. I think everybody had significant numbers there, coach Joel Quenneville said. It helps starting with the puck when you attack. That puck possession is complementary to our team game.

The Blackhawks head out for the next four games, all against Eastern Conference opponents. Nevertheless, Quenneville said they have to approach them like theyre fellow West teams jostling for a playoff spot.

Well face some (Eastern) opponents we havent seen but we still have to approach it like theyre 4-point games and take care of what we can control right now, he said. Where were at right now, we want to forge ahead and at least solidify where were at. Thats our motivation.

Good duo
The Campoli-Campbell defensive combo is only two games old, but its working out well thus far. Quenneville likes how the two feed off each other, and Campbell concurred.

He gets open well and hes an easy guy to play with, Campbell said of his new partner. We talk a lot on the bench, discuss things, and he made a great play on the (Johnson) goal tonight. We just keep working things out and were fine.

Briefly
Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa each had two assists on Friday.

Patrick Kane played in his 300th game on Friday, becoming the second-youngest Blackhawk to do so at 22 years, 105 days old. Grant Mulvey was the youngest at 22 years, 32 days.

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

Dennis Rasmussen looks to build off experience

Dennis Rasmussen looks to build off experience

The Blackhawks’ offseason moves have once again left holes, especially among the forward lines. Considering the experience Dennis Rasmussen gained last season, he could certainly grab the third- or fourth-line center spot.

But Rasmussen isn’t going to pencil in anything yet.

“I don’t really think that way. I always think I have to play as good as possible to earn a spot, and that’s what I think this year, too,” said Rasmussen on Day 3 of Blackhawks training camp. “But it’s really up to me. I have to play well to earn my spot here. That’s what I’m trying to focus on.”

After trading Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell this offseason, the Blackhawks will be looking for several players to step up and fill voids. Center is one of those spots, and Rasmussen played 44 games there with the Blackhawks last season. Rasmussen spent the long offseason prepping for this campaign, focusing on one thing in particular.

“I always try to work on getting faster, that’s the part of my game I can really improve,” he said. “I can improve everything. But especially getting quicker, that’s what I’m trying to focus.”

Anything else Rasmussen has to do to take that next step?

“I think he’s got to be a little more proactive than reactive out on the ice,” Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “Kind of be a little bolder in different areas whether it’s in the offensive zone if you’re down between the hash marks, hey, try and take a guy on 1-on-1. But if you’re a neutral zone, you got to be a little more responsible. If you got to pick up the wide winger and come back and play good defensive hockey, that’s what you’ve got to do.”

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Rasmussen showed that when he made his NHL debut last season. The Blackhawks recalled him in early December, when they were looking to bolster their bottom six; any offense added was a bonus. He scored three of his four goals in his first seven games – his first came in his NHL debut vs. Nashville.

“He can make more things happen out there,” Kitchen said. “I think he understands that too because he wants to do whatever it takes to make the team.”

Rasmussen wants to be part of this group. He gained some great experience last year, and he hopes it serves him well in trying to get that roster spot this season.

“It was great for me. I got to play a lot, think I played in some important situations sometimes and I was really happy with last year. It gave me a lot of confidence, a lot of experience too,” Rasmussen said. “So hopefully I can bring that into this year.”

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

After earning a couple of invites from the Blackhawks this offseason, Alexandre Fortin earned a contract on Sunday.

Fortin agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Blackhawks, who had invited him to prospect and training camp. The 19-year-old, who was passed over in two NHL drafts, was hoping to latch onto the Blackhawks’ organization.

“You know, it’s a nice day for me. I’ve been working on that since I was young, so now it’s just Step 1 and I’m very excited for the future,” Fortin said following Sunday’s training camp sessions. “I have to thank the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s the first team that really believed in me. It’s awesome.”

Indeed, Fortin was just looking for a chance and he could get it here eventually.

“I think it’s a real plus,” Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “I think he earned a contract. Right from the start, he stepped up and played. He’s been very consistent in every scrimmage. He’s been a threat to score out on the ice. I think he’s done a terrific job. He’s got to be very, very happy about the whole situation. It’s great for the organization: get a free agent who comes in and earns a three-year entry-level contract.”

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The most likely scenario is he’ll head back to his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, after logging some training camp time with the Blackhawks. He could get into a preseason game, too. But the future definitely looks bright for Fortin.

“It’s, for sure, just Step 1. My real goal is to play pro,” Fortin said. “So I’ll keep learning, keep doing what coaches want, I’ll watch (the players) who I have to be like and keep working on that every day until my real dream comes true.”

Keith doing fine

Duncan Keith participated in one of the Blackhawks’ two practices again on Sunday, and Kitchen said Keith did just fine.

“The first day, Duncs, he got through the practice no problem. He didn’t have any issues. Talked to him the next day, the festival game day, and he said he was fine. Today was a little tougher day for defensemen, so we were asking a lot of them. There was a lot of 1-on-1, 2-on-1s, 2-on-2s. Duncs said after practice the forwards had it off and the D had the work day today. But he responded well afterwards,” Kitchen said. “He even asked if he could come out for the other practice, but we said no.”