Hawks Notes: Special teams off to the right start

985525.png

Hawks Notes: Special teams off to the right start

LOS ANGELES The Blackhawks special teams came under fire plenty last season, albeit for good reason. The power play couldnt score. The penalty kill couldnt prevent a score. It just wasnt good.

And while one game does not make a turnaround, the Blackhawks nevertheless liked the strides their power play and penalty kill made against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

The Blackhawks scored on one power play and kept the Kings scoreless on theirs en route to a 5-2 victory over Los Angeles today. Again, its just one game. But compared to last season, this was already better.

Scoring on our first 5-on-3 really boosted our team off the bat, coach Joel Quenneville said. All areas of our game pretty solid today, but special teams were definitely better than we saw last year.

Patrick Kanes goal with eight seconds left on a 5-on-3 was the start to a productive day. The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on their other opportunities but still had better puck control and movement when they were on it. And on the other side, the Blackhawks stymied all five of the Kings power-play chances. The Kings had just five shots on those power plays combined.

Thats huge for us, Toews said of special teams. Thats going to win or lose some games for us. We have to focus on that. We have to be the hardest workers whether were killing or on the power play. It made a difference for us tonight.

Feeling better

Jonathan Toews missed Fridays practice with the flu. And while he may not have been 100 percent, he was nonetheless ready for Saturdays game. He played 18 minutes and 47 seconds, tops among the forwards, collecting a goal and an assist.

I felt better, but most of all I was just excited to play hockey again, Toews said. The excitement took over and gave me a little more jump.

Tidbits

Brent Seabrook led the Blackhawks in ice time (23:01) and led all players in blocked shots (seven).

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is usually stingy, especially against the Blackhawks. So Chicagos five-goal outburst was surprising. Quick gave up five goals only once last season, on April 5 against San Jose.

Brandon Saad, Michal Rozsival and Jamal Mayers were the Blackhawks healthy scratches on Saturday.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

Here are some of Tuesday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Wednesday on CSN: Illinois State and Loyola host in Valley doubleheader

Jonathan Toews has five-point night, including a hat trick, in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Report: Bears seeking trade partners for Jay Cutler

Bulls Talk Podcast: What is the Bulls' approach at the trade deadline?

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

Northwestern's offense nowhere to be found as Illini complete sweep of season series

Quick Hits: Blackhawks respond the right way in win over Wild

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Why Sammy Sosa compared himself to Jesus Christ in candid interview

Quick Hits: Blackhawks respond the right way in win over Wild

Quick Hits: Blackhawks respond the right way in win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild have faced each other a lot the past few seasons, especially when you factor in the postseason series. But if we got a whole series like Tuesday night's game, I don't think anyone would argue against it.

Great energy, great action, great performances, including a big one from the Blackhawks' captain. But we'll get to that soon enough. Here are the notables from the Blackhawks' 5-3 victory over the Wild.

What Worked: The Blackhawks' second-period response. The last time the Blackhawks were here they took a lead but watched the Wild come back with a fury. You wondered if the same would happen on Tuesday night after Mikael Granlund's power-play goal tied the game 1-1 early in the second. But the Blackhawks turned up the intensity, retaking the lead just 41 seconds later (Richard Panik) and putting the Wild on the defensive the rest of the period. The Blackhawks outshot the Wild 13-5 in the second.

What Didn't Work: The penalty kill. The Blackhawks only took two penalties on Tuesday night but they were both costly. The Wild – namely Mikael Granlund – made them pay with two power-play goals, including one with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. The Wild have shown this season that they won't go away quietly in any game. They just about came back in this one, thanks to their power play.

Star of the game: Jonathan Toews. Yeah, you're all shocked at this one, aren't you? The goaltenders stole the show in the first period by the end of this one, it was all Toews all the time with a five-point night that included his fourth career regular-season hat trick. Coach Joel Quenneville said during Toews' struggles that he figured the captain would turn it around at some point. And here we are. "Jonny's done so many things for us," Quenneville said. "An amazing player, as competitive as you'll ever find. What a great leader, great captain."

He Said It: "We want to get that top spot and chasing that [Minnesota Wild] team, it's a huge win on the road. Hopefully we can keep playing that same style. It's a lot of fun to play. We have all four lines going and we're doing a lot of good things. Hopefully we can keep this going." Nick Schmaltz on the Blackhawks' current game.

[SHOP: Buy a Jonathan Toews jersey]

By the Numbers: 

400 – Career victories for coach Joel Quenneville behind the Blackhawks bench. 

7 – Consecutive road victories for the Blackhawks which, according to them and Elias Sports, ties a franchise record originally set Dec. 9-29, 1964.

13 – Points for Richard Panik (six goals, seven assists) since Jan. 22.

100th – Career game for Dennis Rasmussen.

2 – Career five-point games for Jonathan Toews. His previous one came Nov. 25, 2011 against the Anaheim Ducks.