Minus Stars, Morin's milestone goal lifts Hawks

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Minus Stars, Morin's milestone goal lifts Hawks

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010
Posted 10:20 PM Updated 11:36 PM

Associated Press

CHICAGO - Even without Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, the Chicago Blackhawks can generate offense.

They proved that Wednesday night, beating the Dallas Stars 8-3.

Rookies Bryan Bickell and Jeremy Morin scored goals and the Blackhawks were able to hang on after building a three-goal lead in the second period, then watching Dallas cut the lead to a goal.

"We were better in the third period and we had to be," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "This has been a trend around here for at least a year or two. We get up by three or four and we lose our concentration."

Chicago led 4-1 after Troy Brouwer's goal 2:21 into the second, but Dallas rallied behind goals late in the period by Brandon Segal and Loui Eriksson 1:05 apart. Quenneville immediately called time to focus his players, then had plenty to say to them between periods.

"He just gave us a little slap in the butt to get us going," Bickell said. "We just needed to shut them down."

The Stars took 13 of their 31 shots in the final period, but goalie Corey Crawford turned them all away.

Dallas coach Marc Crawford was angry that a potential penalty shot infraction went uncalled in the final minute. Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook's stick slid out of his hands, and Crawford thought he was trying to knock the puck away from Trevor Daley. Nothing was called, prompting Crawford to scream obscenities at the officials as they went to their locker room.

"You can't miss a call like that at the end of the game," Crawford said. "There's no excuse. It's a penalty shot in every sense of the word. You've got to be focused in on that."

Dallas had one power play to Chicago's six, but the Blackhawks squandered them all.

"We lost a lot of momentum when we had two in a row in the second period," Quenneville said. "We didn't take advantage. All of a sudden, it was a real hockey game."

It was the second straight win and fifth in the last six games for the Stanley Cup champions.

Chicago evened its home record at 8-8-0 and moved into fourth in the Western Conference with 34 points. Dallas, second in the Western Conference, is 0-1-1 after winning six straight.

Bickell and Jonathan Toews scored Chicago's first-period goals, with two other shots ringing off the posts.

Bickell shrugged off a check from Dallas defenseman Matt Niskanen in the slot and beat Andrew Raycroft with a wrist shot to the glove side at 3:18. Toews scored his 13th goal of the season with a wrist shot from deep on right wing that deflected off Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas in the crease.

Chicago expanded its lead to 4-1 with goals by Morin and Brouwer early in the second period.

James Neal had the Dallas goal, and the Stars rallied late in the second period with goals 1:05 apart by Segal and Eriksson. Segal beat Crawford with a screened 55-foot wrist shot, and Eriksson converted Brad Richards' pass into a score from the right-wing crease.

Patrick Sharp scored an empty-net goal for Chicago in the last second.

The Blackhawks were playing their first game without Kane, whose sprained left ankle will keep him out for up to three weeks. Hossa missed his fourth straight game because of a lower-body injury.

Notes

Dallas outshot Chicago 31-25. Chicago placed Hossa on injured reserve while bringing up rookie forwards Morin and Rob Klinkhammer. Morin played five games for the Blackhawks earlier this season. ... Crawford, the Hawks' backup goalie, has started six of the last eight games, and got the nod ahead of former Dallas goalie Marty Turco.
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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.”