Kopecky bothers Wings as Blackhawks stay hot

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Kopecky bothers Wings as Blackhawks stay hot

Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011
Posted 3:40 p.m. Updated 4:56 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT After their five-day break between games, the Chicago Blackhawks could have had a slow start and labored to shake off rust against the Detroit Red Wings.

Instead, the Blackhawks came out fast and their goaltender made sure they finished strong.

Tomas Kopecky scored twice against his former team and Dave Bolland had a goal and an assist as the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday afternoon. Corey Crawford stopped 36-of-37 for the Blackhawks, who have now won five of their last six heading into Sunday mornings tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Heading into Saturday nights games, the Blackhawks were sixth in the Western Conference with 56 points.

The Blackhawks liked their Thursday and Friday practices and wanted to bring the same energy on Saturday. Healthy and rolling all four lines, the Blackhawks dictated the tempo through most of this one.

Thats what we need to do from now on. We have to set our standards really high and push ourselves, Kopecky said. We said wed take it a period at a time and we did that.

Defenseman Brent Seabrook said sometimes its tough to get a good start when youve had a week or 4-5 days off. Its nice to see we had a good tempo all week and we pushed the pace and played hard today. We just kept it going throughout.

Troy Brouwer had a goal and an assist and Duncan Keith had two assists for the Blackhawks.

WATCH: Brouwer, Seabrook finding power

Crawford gave up a bad goal early to Wings forward Cory Emmerton, who was playing in his first NHL game on Saturday. But he was stellar after that, stopping some choice Red Wings chances. He was especially big in the third period when the Wings pushed back at the Blackhawks and fired 20 shots at Crawford.

I felt my timing was off in the beginning, I felt a little weird. I wasnt in the right position, Crawford said. But I felt better as it went on.

Bollands power-play goal in the first gave the Blackhawks back the momentum they had most of that opening period. Kopeckys first from Bolland -- came just 15 seconds into the Blackhawks second power play. His second, about five minutes later, was a put-back on Marian Hossas attempt.

The Blackhawks knew this weekend was going to be big. They had the pace and early scoring to hold off the Red Wings. Theyll need another effort like that against Philadelphia on Sunday.

We have to gauge ourselves against these two teams. We have to go into these games and really judge ourselves against them, Brouwer said. To get this one today, its good for confidence. Hopefully we have a good one again tomorrow and get some points.

Pick me!

Patrick Sharp said he was pumped when he found out Patrick Kane was chosen as an alternate captain for the All-Star game.

WATCH: Kane has tough decision ahead

Now I hope he picks me ahead of (Jonathan) Toews, Sharp said. Well see. Ive got a Thunder Bay guy (Eric Staal) as captain of the other team.

Kane said Red Wings defenseman and All-Star captain Nicklas Lidstrom asked him who he would pick. Kane said, anyone but Toews.

Briefly

Coach Joel Quenneville said theres a chance Crawford starts Sunday against Philadelphia.

Kopecky now has 10 goals, equaling his total all of last season.
NBC.com will stream Sundays Game of the Week between the Blackhawks and Flyers in its entirety for free.

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

Blackhawks trade Scott Darling to Hurricanes for draft pick

Blackhawks trade Scott Darling to Hurricanes for draft pick

The Blackhawks have traded goaltender Scott Darling to the Carolina Hurricanes for a third-round draft pick in 2017, the team announced Friday. The third-rounder was previously acquired from the Ottawa Senators.

"We could count on Scott in any situation as he was always reliable," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to the Blackhawks organization — including a Stanley Cup Championship team — and we wish him well as he continues his career in Carolina."

In three seasons with Chicago, the 28-year-old Lemont native had a 39-17-9 record with a 2.37 goals against average, .923 save percentage and four shutouts. He was also a key member of the 2015 Stanley Cup-winning team, helping the Blackhawks get out of the first round against the Nashville Predators.

His best year came during the 2016-17 campaign when he set a career high with 18 wins and ranked tied for fifth in the league with a .924 save percentage. He's earned the opportunity to become a full-time starter. It was always unlikely that it would be in his hometown with Corey Crawford under contract through 2019-20, but Friday confirmed that.

"I feel like I've paid my dues as a backup," Darling said at the end of the season. "And when I've had a chance to play in consecutive games I feel like I've shown that I can do it."

He also reflected on his last three years with the Blackhawks "just in case," and had nothing but great things to say about his tenure in Chicago.

"If that does happen, I wouldn't change a second of my time in Chicago," Darling said at the time. "It's been bar-none the best three years of my life. Loved every second. They've been so great to me, my teammates, coaching staff, front office, everybody's been amazing. I wouldn't change a minute."

The Blackhawks will likely look externally for a backup option next season with minor-leaguers Mac Carruth and Lars Johansson due new contracts, and 31-year-old Jeff Glass, who was the No. 3 netminder in the playoffs, having no NHL experience.

The Hurricanes currently own Darling's negotiating rights, and have until July 1 to sign him to an extension when he could hit the market as an unrestricted free agent. Contract talks have not yet started, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

They have two goaltenders (Eddie Lack and Cam Ward) under contract for one more year, meaning a corresponding move could be coming before the expansion draft. One (or both) of them would have to be exposed, assuming Darling signs before then and is protected.

The Blackhawks, who host the NHL Draft from June 23-24, now have 10 draft picks this year: a first, second, fourth, three fifth's, two sixth's and two seventh's.

Blackhawks agree to terms with Nathan Noel on entry-level contract

Blackhawks agree to terms with Nathan Noel on entry-level contract

The Blackhawks strengthened their organizational depth Thursday, announcing the signing of forward Nathan Noel to a three-year entry-level contract that kicks in next season and runs through the 2019-20 campaign. 

Noel, a fourth-round draft pick (No. 113 overall) in 2016, tied a career high with 24 goals — including six game winners — and added 26 assists for 50 points in 52 games during his fourth regular season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was sidelined for a little more than a month in December and January due to an upper-body injury.

The 19-year-old center has raised his game in the postseason, racking up eight goals and 18 assists in 33 games from 2015-17, including six assists in 12 contests so far during the 2017 QMJHL playoffs. Across four years at Saint John, he amassed 208 points (85 goals, 123 assists) in 242 career regular-season games.

Noel is teammates with forward Matthew Highmore, who leads the Sea Dogs in scoring and was signed by the Blackhawks in March to a three-year deal as an undrafted free agent.

Noel is an undersized forward at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, but he's a fast skater with offensive upside. He'll likely start the 2017-18 season in the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs, who desperately needed scoring last year.