LIVE: Blackhawks trail Panthers 3-2 after 2nd

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LIVE: Blackhawks trail Panthers 3-2 after 2nd

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
10:37 a.m.

Associated Press

(AP) -- The Chicago Blackhawks were on the outside of the Western Conference playoff race less than three weeks ago, but an eight-game winning streak has them among the conference's top four.

The Blackhawks look to continue their push Tuesday night when they visit the Florida Panthers and former general manager Dale Tallon.

Chicago (37-23-6) has surged to fourth place in the crowded West, also moving within six points of Central Division-leading Detroit.
READ: Frolik settling in, feeling comfortable with Hawks
Before this streak began, the Blackhawks were tied for 11th place in the conference, four points behind four teams that were tied for the final three playoff spots. They've cut eight points off their deficit in the division.

Jonathan Toews has been a big part of the turnaround. He extended his point streak to nine games in a 5-3 win at Toronto on Saturday, scoring his seventh goal in the last five games. Marian Hossa also scored, giving him six goals in seven games.

They aren't the only ones who have been hot recently. The Blackhawks have scored 16 goals in the last three games, with seven coming in the first period.

"We have an expectation to win and get the two points and I think it's showing in the way we're starting games," defenseman Duncan Keith said.

Keith suffered a finger injury in the latest win after he was hit by a shot early in the third period, but the Blackhawks expect him to play Tuesday.

As Chicago tries to extend its winning streak to nine games for the first time since Dec. 7-28, 2008, it will do so against Tallon's Panthers (26-31-9). Tallon was one of the architects of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-winning team, but he was demoted from general manager to senior adviser in 2009.

Florida hired him last May to help turn things around for their struggling franchise. Despite not being with Chicago during last season's playoffs, Tallon still received a championship ring.
READ: Blackhawks lighting up the scoreboard

While one of Tallon's immediate goals was getting Florida into the playoffs for the first time since 2000, it doesn't appear that will happen this season. The Panthers are in 13th place in the East and have lost five straight, including the last two in overtime.

They fell 3-2 to Washington on Sunday after giving up the tying goal with 2:36 remaining in the third period. The Capitals scored 48 seconds into overtime. The defeat came one night after giving up the winning score to Atlanta 25 seconds into the extra session.

"I thought we kind of stayed with (the Capitals) and looked them in the eye and didn't back down," Florida center Marty Reasoner said. "I think we can be proud of that. Obviously, it seems like we're (seeing) too many times where you try to find the positives in losses. With a young group, we're focused on our effort and how we're playing the system. For the most part, we did that and a bounce here or there and both nights we could have come out with wins."

Chicago took three of a possible four points in the two games against Florida last season in Helsinki, Finland. Patrick Kane, who has two goals and six assists his last seven games, recorded four points in that series.

This will be the first game for forward Michael Frolik against the Panthers since they traded him to the Blackhawks in a five-player deal Feb. 9.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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, and has earned the opportunity to become a full-time starter. It was always unlikely that it would be in his hometown of Chicago 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.