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.

Scott Darling takes the reins for Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s absence

Scott Darling takes the reins for Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s absence

It’s an interesting working life, really, this backup goaltending gig.

Most of the time, you’re in hurry-up-and-wait mode. But now and then something bizarre happens – like the starting goaltender needing an appendectomy on the road – that thrusts you into the No. 1 spot for a time.

Scott Darling has been here, done this before, though, and he did it well. And considering how goaltending has been the backbone of this team’s performance this season, the Blackhawks are confident he can handle the job.

Darling gave the Blackhawks a chance again on Sunday night, his 30-stop performance keeping them within one goal in what was ultimately a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Darling started his second consecutive game – Crawford was diagnosed with appendicitis prior to the team’s game in Philadelphia, where he had his operation. An interesting turn of events, for sure, but Darling will do what’s necessary in Crawford’s absence.

“Obviously you don’t want it to happen this way. But there’s not too many other ways it can happen so it’s an exciting opportunity for me,” Darling said following Sunday’s game. “I mean I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know how long Corey will be gone or what the game plan is. But I’m excited to get a few more starts than usual.”

Darling had a whole three games of NHL experience in December of 2014 when he subbed for Crawford, out with a lower-body injury at that time. That worked out just fine – he won three of his first four starts and came up even bigger in the Blackhawks’ first-round series against the Nashville Predators that postseason.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Coach Joel Quenneville said Darling has handled the extremes well.

“I think that’s what it’s all about in that role: you’re ready to play once every four or five games and then all of a sudden you’re playing every night and it’s a different job description, workload, pressure. But the expectations when you do get it can be different,” Quenneville said. “Some guys handle it the same way, going every fourth or fifth game and don’t change a beat. I think Darls did exactly that. He had a good demeanor, had a good approach, was patient as he always was. I think that helped a lot. He played some critical games for us in the playoffs, handled it the same way and that’s how you’re hoping they handle it.”

Darling is expected to get most, if not all, of the workload while Crawford’s out. Lars Johansson was recalled on Sunday and will serve as backup, but he has no NHL experience – then again, Darling didn’t have much a few years ago, either.

But Darling isn’t taking anything for granted during this stretch.

“I’ve gotta win some games to have the right to get those minutes,” he said.

Maybe, but the Blackhawks also have to give him some help. The goaltending hasn’t gotten a ton of that from the Blackhawks, who have sputtered offensively most of the season. No matter who’s in net, the Blackhawks need to start producing more.

For now, Darling is the man. He’s rolled with the backup-gig demands before and should be fine again. And if the Blackhawks can help him out some, they shouldn’t miss much of a beat without Crawford.

“He’s played great. I thought he played great again [Sunday],” Duncan Keith said. “He gave us a chance, and you know, more than a chance to win. He stopped breakaways and made big plays all night. We’re lucky to have him as a goalie we can look to when we’ve got a guy like Crow out.”

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

The Blackhawks may want to forget this weekend.

Their captain is struggling health-wise and the rest of the team is struggling in other aspects. That led to a point-less pair of games, something the Blackhawks haven’t dealt with often this season. Even a return home on Sunday, where the Blackhawks had collected points in 12 consecutive games, couldn’t help them.

Still, the show must go on. So before we trudge home in the slush, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

1. Jonathan Toews isn’t improving. The captain isn’t getting any worse but his injury isn’t getting better. That’s what coach Joel Quenneville said prior to the game, the sixth in a row Toews has missed with a reported back injury. Toews skated on Sunday morning but will not shut it down for a few days. That’s discouraging news, especially for Toews. You could hear the frustration in Toews’ voice when he talked following Friday’s practice. It’s likely growing.

2. Scott Darling did all he could. We could have “goaltending buoys the Blackhawks” on a save/get key this season. It was true again on Sunday as Darling was stellar in stopping 30 of 32 shots. The Blackhawks have gone through their troubles this season but goaltending hasn’t been one of them. Darling will take the bulk of the work while Corey Crawford is sidelined. If he plays the way he did on Sunday night, the Blackhawks won’t have to worry about that part of their game.

3. Little generated again. Both teams played on Saturday but the Blackhawks were the ones really looking lackluster on Sunday night. The Blackhawks once again didn’t have many great scoring opportunities; through two periods, you could count their quality shots on one hand. They woke up some in the third period but not enough.

4. Second line drawing all the attention? OK, again, right now Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane are the Blackhawks’ top line. And with that, the trio has become the prime target of attention for the opposition. Other lines have had opportunities but these are not the balanced Blackhawks teams of previous seasons. That second line is what did the bulk of the damage last season, and teams are focusing on it –  and being more successful against it – this season.

5. Power plays a problem again. The Blackhawks’ first power play was as forgettable as they come. It was so unproductive, spent so little time in the Jets’ zone that fans started to audibly groan. And when the Blackhawks got a four-minute power play late in regulation they couldn’t get the game-tying goal. Again, this isn’t the first season the power play has struggled. But when the offense overall dries up, the issues here are that much more glaring.