Keith's clutch shot nets Blackhawks vital point

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Keith's clutch shot nets Blackhawks vital point

Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011
Posted 9:43 p.m. Updated 10:50 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. On Friday the Chicago Blackhawks barely held on to get to a shootout. On Saturday they clawed their way back into one.

It was a little more satisfying how the Blackhawks got that one point on Saturday compared to the day before. But it was nonetheless frustrating that they couldnt come up with one more.

Troy Brouwer and Duncan Keith scored power-play goals but the Blackhawks came up empty in the shootout in a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night. The Blackhawks went 2-2-2 on this road trip and remain in 11th place in the tight Western Conference race.

Dave Bolland had two assists for the Blackhawks. Radim Vrbata was the lone scorer in the shootout, beating Corey Crawford with a high backhand shot.

You never know whats going to happen in a shootout. Thats why you try not to get it that far, said defenseman Brian Campbell. We didnt capitalize on the first period or overtime. Its frustrating not to come out with two points.

Still, as opposed to Friday when the Blackhawks squandered a 3-0 lead against Dallas, they rallied on Saturday. They were down 2-0 barely a minute into the second period and dug their way out on the strength of their power play.
Radim Vrbata scores the only goal of the shootout to defeat the Blackhawks 3-2. However, the way the Blackhawks fought back to earn a point felt a little better to players than picking up the point in Dallas the previous evening. (AP)
It was better, captain Jonathan Toews said. We played a much more efficient and smart game. We played hard for each other and the way our team is supposed to. You get down a goal or two to that team it isnt an easy thing. It was a good job by our power play.

The Blackhawks had to have felt some fatigue entering this one. It was their fourth game in six days, second in as many nights. Despite all that, the Blackhawks came out strong once again.

They peppered Ilya Bryzgalov with double-digit shots through the opening minutes, with the Phoenix netminder holding strong. Vrbatas breakaway on a long clearing pass put the Coyotes up 1-0.

I thought we had a real good start to the game, coach Joel Quenneville said. That breakaway couldve been preventable and they got a lot of momentum off it.

The Blackhawks got their power play going again at the right time, with Brouwer taking Marian Hossas pass in the slot and firing one past Bryzagalov. Keiths effort tied it with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.

Was Saturdays one point more enjoyable than Fridays? Considering how each was reached, probably. But the Blackhawks know that one point here or there isnt going to make much headway.

At least we got one. But at this point we need more two-point games than one-point ones, said Crawford, who stopped 23 of 25 in the shootout loss. We battled back, got in a little trouble, I gave up a tough one and gave them a ton of momentum but we were able to hold them back and came back pretty strong. That shows a lot of character.

Injury update

Fernando Pisani was out on Saturday night and coach Joel Quenneville said hes still day to day with an upper body injury sustained against the Stars on Friday night.

Ryan Johnson was placed on injured reserve on Saturday after suffering an upper-body injury Friday in Dallas.

Jake Dowell missed Saturdays game with the flu.
Briefly

Marian Hossa returned after missing Fridays game with the flu. His assist on Troy Brouwers goal gave him his 800th career NHL point.

The Blackhawks called up Jeff Taffe from Rockford on Saturday. He played just over four minutes against the Coyotes.

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

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the New York Rangers tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Best in the West vs. best in the East?

The Blackhawks and Rangers square off tonight as two of the best teams in the league, with each at or near the top of their respective conferences in the standings. The Rangers are two points away from first place in the East, but own the best goal differential of any team at plus-29. The Blackhawks sit atop the West with 37 points and have the second-best goal differential in the West at plus-10. Still a long, long way to go, but perhaps an early Stanley Cup Final preview?

2. Four stars sidelined.

The Blackhawks are already without Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews due to injuries, and now Brent Seabrook has been added to the list. Luckily for the Blackhawks, they have a surplus of defensemen and won't have a problem finding a guy prepared to step in. But Seabrook is irreplaceable on and off the ice, and he's been really good on it this season. For the Rangers, Rick Nash is out with a groin injury while Jimmy Vesey was scratched last night due to an upper-body injury, making his status unknown for tonight. Lots of firepower will be watching the game from the press box.

3. Jimmy Vesey.

Speaking of Vesey, the Blackhawks went all-out for the reigning Hobey Baker Award as college's top player in the offseason by including Patrick Kane in their recruiting pitch. Vesey's decision reportedly came down to the Blackhawks and Rangers — and it sounded like Chicago was the frontrunner — but he ended up choosing to stay closer to home by picking New York. He's made an immediate impact, scoring nine goals and adding seven assists in 27 games. Three of those goals have been game-winners. If he plays (he's battling an upper-body injury, as mentioned above), it will be interesting to see the reception he gets from the United Center crowd when he steps onto the ice — although it's possible he doesn't get one at all. 

4. Scott Darling vs. Henrik Lundqvist.

Former Blackhawks netminder Antti Raanta, who lost his backup job to Darling in 2015, got the start for the Rangers last night against Winnipeg, which means Henrik Lundqivst is expected to anchor the crease tonight. The last time — and only time — Darling faced the Rangers, he earned his first career NHL shutout when he stopped all 25 shots en route to a 1-0 victory in March 2015. Lundqvist wasn't in goal for that meeting, so it will surely be a fun matchup for Darling as he goes head-to-head against a former Vezina Trophy winner.

5. Limit quality chances.

The Rangers have been a dangerous team offensively this season, scoring the most goals of any team with 99. That's good for 3.54 goals per game. They've been successful in that area because of the contributions they're getting from up and down the lineup, highlighted by Michael Grabner's team-leading 13 goals. The Rangers average only 28.4 shots per game, which ranks fifth-worst, but their shooting percentage at even strength is far and away the best in the league at an astonishing 11.39. Watch out for those quality shots.

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Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

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Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”