Montador, Toews score twice to power Hawks

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Montador, Toews score twice to power Hawks

The Blackhawks keep getting offense from their defensemen. Thats good, because they may have to chip in for an injured teammate.

Steve Montador and Jonathan Toews scored two goals apiece, but Brent Seabrook suffered a lower body injury and did not return to the Blackhawks 6-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night.

The Blackhawks have won three in a row but the victory was somewhat tempered by the injury to Seabrook; coach Joel Quenneville said Seabrook is currently listed as day to day, and that theyll know more Monday morning.

Seabrook appeared to have lost an edge as he went into the back boards awkwardly with about 14:30 remaining in the second period. He got off the ice and went to the locker room on his own, but he was putting little weight on his left leg.

The Blackhawks may have to call on that defensemen depth, much of which they picked up this offseason.

We missed (Duncan Keith) there for three games and it was obviously a void with all the quality ice time in all situations, Quenneville said. We did a good job without him this half of the game, but it may present a challenge moving forward.

Meanwhile, one of those summer acquisitions was once again an offensive threat. Montador now has three goals in his past two games, including another one on the power play. His first goal was a beauty, as he bobbed and weaved his way to the front and flicked one past Nikolai Khabibulin.

It also came just 34 seconds after Toews first one, giving the Blackhawks an early 2-0 advantage. Montador laughed at the notion that his first-goal move was Patrick Kane-like.

I dont look like Justin Bieber, Montador joked. But (Kane) is in a league all of his own. I was just trying to hold onto the puck like I did and get it around Khabibulin and did that.

Quenneville said Montadors first goal was pretty remarkable for a defenseman, and a big goal at the time. Hes been a nice addition to our club.

The defensemen continue to pump the Blackhawks offensive numbers, as they added six more points on Sunday. Keith scored his second goal of the season and Nick Leddy added two assists.

Its great for everyones confidence and great for teams confidence to see different guys score, Toews said. It doesnt matter who scores as long as we find a way. If were getting it from different guys, it just goes to show we can play a solid team game and things will go well for us if we keep working.

Daniel Carcillo had an empty-net goal while Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Kane each had two assists.

The Blackhawks are getting contributions across the board, and a lot more now from the blue liners. Its translated into a more consistent game and victories. Whether or not the Blackhawks will have to go without Seabrook for a bit is not known. But they have to be confident with their depth and current run.

Weve had good starts but at the same time were not letting off the gas pedal, so to speak, Toews said. We have to keep going that way whereas, when we have a lead going into the third period, home or road, our style doesnt change.

Briefly

Dave Bolland (right foot) was out again for Sundays game. Quenneville said Bolland will make the road trip, and the coach hopes Bolland plays in one of the first two games.

Leddy now has 10 assists on the season and leads Blackhawks defensemen in points with 12.

Hossa was also credited with four takeaways on Sunday night.

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

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The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.