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.

Blackhawks trade Scott Darling to Hurricanes for draft pick

Blackhawks trade Scott Darling to Hurricanes for draft pick

The Blackhawks have traded goaltender Scott Darling to the Carolina Hurricanes for a third-round draft pick in 2017, the team announced Friday. The third-rounder was previously acquired from the Ottawa Senators.

"We could count on Scott in any situation as he was always reliable," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to the Blackhawks organization — including a Stanley Cup Championship team — and we wish him well as he continues his career in Carolina."

In three seasons with Chicago, the 28-year-old Lemont native had a 39-17-9 record with a 2.37 goals against average, .923 save percentage and four shutouts. He was also a key member of the 2015 Stanley Cup-winning team, helping the Blackhawks get out of the first round against the Nashville Predators.

His best year came during the 2016-17 campaign when he set a career high with 18 wins and ranked tied for fifth in the league with a .924 save percentage. He's earned the opportunity to become a full-time starter. It was always unlikely that it would be in his hometown with Corey Crawford under contract through 2019-20, but Friday confirmed that.

"I feel like I've paid my dues as a backup," Darling said at the end of the season. "And when I've had a chance to play in consecutive games I feel like I've shown that I can do it."

He also reflected on his last three years with the Blackhawks "just in case," and had nothing but great things to say about his tenure in Chicago.

"If that does happen, I wouldn't change a second of my time in Chicago," Darling said at the time. "It's been bar-none the best three years of my life. Loved every second. They've been so great to me, my teammates, coaching staff, front office, everybody's been amazing. I wouldn't change a minute."

The Blackhawks will likely look externally for a backup option next season with minor-leaguers Mac Carruth and Lars Johansson due new contracts, and 31-year-old Jeff Glass, who was the No. 3 netminder in the playoffs, having no NHL experience.

The Hurricanes currently own Darling's negotiating rights, and have until July 1 to sign him to an extension when he could hit the market as an unrestricted free agent. Contract talks have not yet started, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

They have two goaltenders (Eddie Lack and Cam Ward) under contract for one more year, meaning a corresponding move could be coming before the expansion draft. One (or both) of them would have to be exposed, assuming Darling signs before then and is protected.

The Blackhawks, who host the NHL Draft from June 23-24, now have 10 draft picks this year: a first, second, fourth, three fifth's, two sixth's and two seventh's.

Blackhawks agree to terms with Nathan Noel on entry-level contract

Blackhawks agree to terms with Nathan Noel on entry-level contract

The Blackhawks strengthened their organizational depth Thursday, announcing the signing of forward Nathan Noel to a three-year entry-level contract that kicks in next season and runs through the 2019-20 campaign. 

Noel, a fourth-round draft pick (No. 113 overall) in 2016, tied a career high with 24 goals — including six game winners — and added 26 assists for 50 points in 52 games during his fourth regular season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was sidelined for a little more than a month in December and January due to an upper-body injury.

The 19-year-old center has raised his game in the postseason, racking up eight goals and 18 assists in 33 games from 2015-17, including six assists in 12 contests so far during the 2017 QMJHL playoffs. Across four years at Saint John, he amassed 208 points (85 goals, 123 assists) in 242 career regular-season games.

Noel is teammates with forward Matthew Highmore, who leads the Sea Dogs in scoring and was signed by the Blackhawks in March to a three-year deal as an undrafted free agent.

Noel is an undersized forward at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, but he's a fast skater with offensive upside. He'll likely start the 2017-18 season in the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs, who desperately needed scoring last year.