Hawks make it eight straight with win over Leafs

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Hawks make it eight straight with win over Leafs

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 9:11 p.m. Updated: 10:15 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TORONTO You dont win eight consecutive games without doing a few things right.

Right now, the Chicago Blackhawks are doing a lot of things right.

The Blackhawks got goals throughout their lineup again and Corey Crawford was stellar again as the Blackhawks won again, this time a 5-3 decision over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

The Blackhawks, who have now collected points in 12 of their last 13 games, are still fourth in the Western Conference with 80 points. Theyre two points ahead of Phoenix and just two behind San Jose, which played late Saturday against Dallas.

If there was any uncertainty coming out of Saturdays game it was the status of defenseman Duncan Keith, who took a shot to the right hand in the third period and missed the last several shifts.

Im feeling like I would have played if I felt better, said Keith, who remained on the bench through those final minutes. Were going to look at it (Sunday) and see how it is.

The Blackhawks were on the offensive attack early and often again on Saturday. And after so many games where just their top line was scoring, now its everyone. Marian Hossa scored 70 seconds into the game off a bad Toronto pass, and Michael Frolik converted another Leafs miscue about three minutes later. Jonathan Toews continued his torrid streak, scoring his 27th goal to put the Blackhawks up 3-0 after one.

Toews now has a nine-game points streak and seven goals in his last five games.

Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell scored for the Blackhawks, who took a 5-1 advantage after two.

Our guys, its incredible the way were scoring goals, said Crawford, who stopped 30 of 33 for his eighth consecutive decision. The only thing is, when we get up by a couple, not to just let it go and try and stay focused and battle for every shot. This is another huge win for us.

The Blackhawks did have their skittish moments in this one, as would be somewhat expected for a team thats played five games in seven days. When they made mistakes, Crawford was there to clean up the mess.

He was great, especially in the third period, said coach Joel Quenneville. (He made) big saves, the save on the (Mikhail Grabovski) penalty shot and a couple right down the gut. He was huge.

Crawford said he was feeling a little fatigue on Saturday.

I was a little tired tonight. It was really hot on the ice so that played a little factor, said Crawford, who started his 11th consecutive game. It affects everyone. You just have to battle through it and keep working. I feel good.

The Blackhawks are generating offense from everyone and getting great goaltending along with it. They knew this latest stretch was going to be a challenge. With five games in a week complete, its so far, so good.

All year long weve said we needed a roll. Right now were on it, Quenneville said. Lets try to sustain it.

Stalbergs return

Stalberg was rewarded for his work in the second period, when a goal originally given to Tomas Kopecky was later changed to Stalbergs. The left wing, who was traded from Toronto for Kris Versteeg this past offseason, deflected Kopeckys shot for his 10th goal of the season.

I think it was pretty obvious. Kopy would probably like to have it but Im not that nice of a guy, Stalberg said. I dont get too many of those. If I get one, Ill take it.

Ring-ing endorsement

Blackhawks president John McDonough presented a 2010 Stanley Cup ring for the Cup display at the Hockey Hall of Fame here on Saturday afternoon. The ring will is displayed alongside the first Stanley Cup ring from 1893, former Blackhawk and current HHoF chairman Bill Hays 1961 ring, Daryl Seamans 89 ring with the Calgary Flames and Bob Johnsons 91 ring with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sopel headed to White House

Defenseman Brent Sopel will join his former Blackhawks teammates when they visit the White House on Friday.

Sopel, who was traded from Atlanta to the Montreal Canadiens a few days before the deadline, told canadiens.com on Saturday I got my invite and the team was nice enough to let me go since its between games. Im quite excited for that experience. Ill make my way down to Washington on the 11th and have some fun at the White House. I dont know what the details are yet, but anytime I can see the Stanley Cup with my name on it, it never gets old.

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

Artemi Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

Artemi Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

A little more than two years ago Artemi Panarin had many NHL teams vying for his services, the Blackhawks winning the bidding war and signing him. On Friday the Panarin-Blackhawks union was over, the 25-year-old traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But according to his agent, if Panarin had it to do all over again, he still would have signed with the Blackhawks.

Dan Milstein, who represents Panarin, said the Russian left wing is forever grateful to the Blackhawks for the past two seasons in which he put up stellar numbers in consecutive regular seasons.

“The experience, playing on the same line with [Artem] Anisimov and [Patrick] Kane, having coach [Joel] Quenneville and many other members of the organization help him along the way, providing the translation services and being there for him, the entire process made his transition to North America extremely easy,” Milstein said. “He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago.”

Milstein was in Chicago on Friday morning when he got the call from Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman on the trade – Bowman told the media on Friday that the deal “came together pretty quickly.” Milstein immediately called Panarin, who was about to get on a plane for a fishing trip in Russia.

“Initially he was shocked. But as the day went on we kept in touch and he understands,” Milstein said. “He said, ‘I understand it’s a business. I accept the challenge.’ His last words were, ‘I accept the challenge.’”

The deal, which sent Panarin and his upcoming two-year deal worth $6 million per season to Columbus, brought Brandon Saad back to Chicago. Saad will likely bring stability to the Blackhawks’ top line, which has missed his presence since he was traded in the summer of 2015. Who Kane’s left wing will be this season remains to be seen. Quenneville said on Saturday that Nick Schmaltz will probably get a good chance there; he played with Kane when Anisimov was hurt last season.

Still, the chemistry between Kane and Panarin will be tough to match. Milstein said he saw Kane briefly at the NHL Draft on Friday night, and that he told Milstein, “just let [Panarin] know that I love him.”

Panarin, like most of the Blackhawks, had a very quiet postseason. After recording seven points against the St. Louis Blues, Panarin had just one assist in four games against the Nashville Predators. Not long after the playoffs Panarin was interviewed in Russian. One of the quotes, translated into English, read, “I was not in the best shape and didn’t have enough strength” for the playoffs. Milstein didn’t believe that was an accurate translation.

“If you know Panarin, in his native tongue he’s very funny. If you use a translator, sometimes it takes things out of context. But I don’t believe that’s what he meant,” Milstein said. “He put a good [regular] season together, a fair season, but the performance in the playoffs, obviously, he was disappointed. He was frustrated with his performance.”

Milstein said Panarin will probably head to Columbus in a few weeks; he’s currently waiting on visa issues. Panarin’s time in Chicago was shorter than most thought it would be but his agent said he’s ready for the next challenge.

“Artemi is looking forward to coming here,” said Milstein, who was in Columbus on Monday. “This will be a good opportunity to shine.”

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

When the Blackhawks traded to get Brandon Saad back, they also acquired Anton Forsberg, who they believe is ready to be their latest backup goaltender. On Monday they signed him to a two-year deal.

The Blackhawks inked two players on Monday, Forsberg, whose contract runs through the 2018-19 season, and Tomas Jurco, who agreed to a one-year contract extension.

Forsberg joins the Blackhawks having very little NHL experience – he’s played 10 career games at this level, going 1-8-0. But the Blackhawks’ previous two backup goaltenders, Antti Raanta and Scott Darling, hadn’t made an NHL appearance before joining the Blackhawks. Forsberg led the Cleveland Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL-affiliate team, to a Calder Cup title in 2016; during that run he went 9-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

On Friday, when the Blackhawks acquired Saad and Forsberg from Columbus for Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte, general manager Stan Bowman said the team is, “optimistic about Anton’s potential.”

“We like his profile as a goalie,” he said. “He’s a big guy, takes up a lot of net, has that mobility and makes good positional saves as well as athletic saves. A year ago, led his team to the [Calder] Cup championships, so he knows what it’s like to put a team on his back. It was the AHL but he’s had a lot of success there. He’s earned the right to be an NHL goalie.”

Jurco, acquired by the Blackhawks from Detroit in February, played 13 games with them down the regular-season stretch. Bowman said shortly after the trade that Jurco would get a chance here.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” he said. “I think a lot of ways, sometimes guys need different opportunities. It doesn’t work out in every place. A fresh start will be great for Tomas.”