Hossa the hero again as Blackhawks beat Stars

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Hossa the hero again as Blackhawks beat Stars

DALLAS Patrick Kane saw just enough of Marian Hossa out of the corner of his eye. That apparently was all he needed to see. A quick behind-the-back pass to an open Hossa, shot, score, and the Blackhawks kept their great start intact.

Hossa had the power-play game-winner 1:41 into overtime, and Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews also scored power-play goals in the Blackhawks 3-2 victory on Thursday night. The Blackhawks, down 2-0 early, came back to improve to 4-0-0, their best start in 40 years.

Kane, who has been strong to start the season, chose pass over shot.

(Hossa) made a nice pass in the slot and I wanted to fake the defenseman; I was going to try to get a shot myself, Kane said. But he ended up just staying there. I saw (Hossa) out of the corner of my eye and it worked out.

Said Hossa, this was our first really big test, coming from behind, and we didnt quit. It was huge.

Yes it was definitely a test, and Kari Lehtonen was the man making life so difficult for the Blackhawks. The Stars goaltender was tremendous on Thursday, stymieing the Blackhawks and most of their 41 shots. But instead of getting frustrated, the Blackhawks just kept playing. And shooting.

It was almost fun to watch how good he was playing. I know its scary to say, Kane said. He was just making acrobatic save after acrobatic save.

Then the Blackhawks got a break when, on a second-period power play, Sharps pass went off Stars defenseman Trevor Daleys stick and past Lehtonen. Toews tied the game with less than six minutes remaining. Then in overtime, Kanes dazzling pass to Hossa finished the comeback.

We can talk about that one for a long time, coach Joel Quenneville said of Kanes pass. He had eyes behind his head because he saw Hoss. Everybody thought it was on the left side, including me, and he pulls that off. Hoss doesnt waste it; he buries it. Its a special ending.

Hossa, who knows Lehtonen from their Atlanta days, shot where the Blackhawks said they should target the goaltender.

We were talking about going low blocker on him and it seems like everyone went high glove, said Hossa, who beat Lehtonen on the blocker side. But he played unbelievable and we were lucky to get this win.

Corey Crawford stopped 21 of 23 for his third victory of the season, including a penalty shot on Ryan Garbutt.

He actually came in pretty quick, so I didnt have a lot of time, Crawford said. He went for the backhand and just quickly and tried to roof it. So I had to do the splits there and I just got a piece of it.

And Duncan Keith got a piece of another one. The Stars were looking to go up 3-1 as seconds ticked away in the second period and Alex Goligoskis shot trickled through Crawfords pads and toward the end. But Duncan Keith shoved the puck out of the crease in time.

It was just a quick play and happened to be in a spot where I could get it, Keith said. They moved it around well and (the puck) snuck through Crow there, but I was lucky to get my stick on it.

A little luck never hurts, but the Blackhawks deserve credit for continuing with what got them all those shot opportunities throughout the game. It worked, and theyre off to a flying start.

I think we had a lot of good chances out there, even though we were down by two, Keith said. We stuck with it, kept playing. We were opportunistic.

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”