Hawks win one for 'Q' due to Brouwer, Crawford

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Hawks win one for 'Q' due to Brouwer, Crawford

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011
Posted 9:29 p.m. Updated 10:40 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks faced as much of a must-win situation on Wednesday as they ever have this season. To add more mental weight, coach Joel Quenneville was in the hospital instead of at his usual spot behind the bench.

The Blackhawks needed to be calm and focused against the Minnesota Wild, and acting coach Mike Haviland supplied the right message.

WATCH: Toews thinking of Coach Q

I just said, Hey, its time for us to make a stand here. We know we can do it in this room. We just cant wait for tomorrow.

It worked.

Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal in the third period, a power-play effort 34 seconds after the Wild had tied the game, and the Blackhawks took a 3-1 victory over Minnesota at the United Center. Brouwers goal came just 34 seconds after the Wild had tied the game at 1-1.

The victory snapped a two-game winless streak and gave the Blackhawks some solace on a day when Quenneville wasnt there.

There was no post-game update on Quenneville, who was hospitalized and in stable condition on Wednesday with an undisclosed illness. Quenneville went to the emergency room late Tuesday night with what team physician Dr. Michael Terry said was severe discomfort. Terry added that the health concern was not of cardiac nature.

Despite Quennevilles illness, the Blackhawks said they put it out of their mind at games start because they had no choice.

We left him out of it just because we didnt want too much of a distraction, especially coming into a huge game like tonight, said Brouwer. We wouldnt say we put our season on how the game was going to go tonight, but it had big relevance on where we feel our team is headed for the next 25 games.

Nevertheless, the Blackhawks played the first 10 minutes like they had their minds elsewhere. They were sloppy, struggling for zone time and scrambling. The Wild were relentless on the other end, outshooting the Blackhawks 11-2 midway through the first period. Corey Crawford, who stopped 33 of 34 on the night, was stoic through the first when the Wild also had two power plays.

He was making some huge stops. Especially early in the game, when we needed it most, he was there, said Jonathan Toews. When you have to kill a couple big penalties like that, it says a lot about your goaltender.

Brian Campbell gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead on his power-play goal about 13 minutes into the first. They got four power plays in the fourth but came up empty on all of them. Despite that, and Wild center Matt Cullens tying goal early in the third, the Blackhawks were confident in their game.

All standings and stats aside, we played a solid game and we carried it through, said Toews, who added that they kept Quenneville in mind. We just knew what we had to do and what Q would want us to do and thats work hard and compete and not change anything.

Just 34 seconds after the Wild tied it up Brouwer came through with his winner. Haviland said sending out that No. 2 power play, which has been hot lately, was assistant coach Mike Kitchens idea.

Kitch said to me, lets start Bolleys group instead of the other ones, Haviland said. Obviously Kitch was right on for that one.

The Blackhawks still have plenty of work to do. They had a lot on their minds today, with their head coach ailing. But come game time, they focused on what they could control.
Mike Haviland shouts instructions to the Blackhawks during the victory over the Wild on Wednesday. Blackhawks players presented Haviland with the game puck for earning his first career win as acting head coach and said his pregame speech really got them ready for the game. (AP)
Im sure (Quennevilles hospitalization) was in their heads. Thats a gutsy effort, our coach not being here, Haviland said. You can put a lot of things into it: the (recent lengthy) trip and youre battling for every inch, every point. We battled from the cage on out.

Kane better

Patrick Kane, who was sick with the flu and didnt skate the past two days, played just over 19 minutes. He had three shots on goal. Haviland said Kane was fine afterward.

I talked to him right after and he said he got better as the game went on, Haviland said. He said he felt winded early. Give him a lot of credit. He battled through not skating these last couple of days.

Briefly

Former Blackhawkscurrent Wild right wing Martin Havlat played in his 600th career game on Wednesday night.

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

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

The Blackhawks may want to forget this weekend.

Their captain is struggling health-wise and the rest of the team is struggling in other aspects. That led to a point-less pair of games, something the Blackhawks haven’t dealt with often this season. Even a return home on Sunday, where the Blackhawks had collected points in 12 consecutive games, couldn’t help them.

Still, the show must go on. So before we trudge home in the slush, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

1. Jonathan Toews isn’t improving. The captain isn’t getting any worse but his injury isn’t getting better. That’s what coach Joel Quenneville said prior to the game, the sixth in a row Toews has missed with a reported back injury. Toews skated on Sunday morning but will not shut it down for a few days. That’s discouraging news, especially for Toews. You could hear the frustration in Toews’ voice when he talked following Friday’s practice. It’s likely growing.

2. Scott Darling did all he could. We could have “goaltending buoys the Blackhawks” on a save/get key this season. It was true again on Sunday as Darling was stellar in stopping 30 of 32 shots. The Blackhawks have gone through their troubles this season but goaltending hasn’t been one of them. Darling will take the bulk of the work while Corey Crawford is sidelined. If he plays the way he did on Sunday night, the Blackhawks won’t have to worry about that part of their game.

3. Little generated again. Both teams played on Saturday but the Blackhawks were the ones really looking lackluster on Sunday night. The Blackhawks once again didn’t have many great scoring opportunities; through two periods, you could count their quality shots on one hand. They woke up some in the third period but not enough.

4. Second line drawing all the attention? OK, again, right now Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane are the Blackhawks’ top line. And with that, the trio has become the prime target of attention for the opposition. Other lines have had opportunities but these are not the balanced Blackhawks teams of previous seasons. That second line is what did the bulk of the damage last season, and teams are focusing on it –  and being more successful against it – this season.

5. Power plays a problem again. The Blackhawks’ first power play was as forgettable as they come. It was so unproductive, spent so little time in the Jets’ zone that fans started to audibly groan. And when the Blackhawks got a four-minute power play late in regulation they couldn’t get the game-tying goal. Again, this isn’t the first season the power play has struggled. But when the offense overall dries up, the issues here are that much more glaring.

Blackhawks score late but can't get past Jets

Blackhawks score late but can't get past Jets

The Blackhawks’ offense has been struggling for some time now. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks, more often than not, have found a way to get just enough to get them a point or two.

But this weekend, their mediocre offense was downgraded to anemic, and the inevitable disappointing results followed.

Artemi Panarin scored his second goal in as many games but the the Winnipeg Jets scored late to take a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Sunday night. The Blackhawks dropped their second in a row. It was also the first time they didn’t record at least a point at the United Center since their season-opening loss to the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 12.

Jonathan Toews missed his sixth consecutive game with a reported back injury that coach Joel Quenneville said is “not getting better.” Toews will stay off the ice for a few days and be re-evaluated in the middle of the week.

Scott Darling was strong, stopping 30 of 32 shots. But it was one more game in which the Blackhawks leaned on their goaltending and provided little offensive support.

“Yeah, it’s been frustrating,” Duncan Keith said. “We’re obviously not doing what we need to do to create enough offense, putting pucks on the net or getting to the net or even just having enough offensive zone time.”

No, the Blackhawks’ zone time wasn’t so good in this one. That was especially true on their first power play, during which the Jets were more of a threat on Darling than the Blackhawks were on Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

Still, thanks to Panarin’s goal with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation, the Blackhawks once again had a chance. Andrew Copp diminished those chances some with his goal with 4:45 remaining. The Blackhawks got a four-minute power play with less than three minutes left in the third period but couldn’t get one past Hellebuyck. Their best chance, coming from Marian Hossa, was stopped with 2.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

“That was a good chance to get the equalizer and we had a couple of decent looks but not the finish we were looking for,” Quenneville said. “We didn’t generate much tonight. It was one of those games. They came into our building, what was it a year or two ago, where they beat us back-to-back Sunday nights. They shut us down. The first two games [this season] they’ve shut us down pretty good.”

There’s no doubt the Blackhawks are missing the void left by Toews. Sure, they got points in four of the first six games he missed. But as Patrick Kane said, eventually you start feeling the void left by a top player.

“When you’re missing a guy right away for a couple of games, it may not really show up and guys are excited to get that chance. The longer you go, missing a great player, there’s going to be a hole,” he said. “Nothing we can control. It’s something guys like myself and other guys have to step up and try to [help], whether it’s taking on more ownership and leadership, playing the right way and do whatever you can to help this team win.”

The Blackhawks are going to have to find ways to win without Toews, as they did when he was first absent, because it sounds like he’ll be missing at least a few more games. Even when Toews was in the lineup, however, the scoring issues were there. Are the Blackhawks lacking confidence? Darling said no – “I’d be surprised [at that] with the great offensive players we have in here.”

Still, the Blackhawks need to find answers, no matter who’s in their lineup.

“We just have to figure out a way to get that chemistry going,” Darling said. “Because when it’s going it’s pretty lethal.”