Niemi, Sharks get the best of Blackhawks again

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Niemi, Sharks get the best of Blackhawks again

Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010
10:00 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

When the Chicago Blackhawks have won lately, theyve been disciplined. Theyve stayed out of the penalty box, staying calm and staying away from costly penalties and draining kills.

But on Thursday, they got away from that disciplined game and it cost them.

Joe Thornton scored the game-winner a few seconds after the Blackhawks killed off their final Sharks power play of the night and Antti Niemi collected his third victory against his former team in the Blackhawks 5-3 loss to San Jose on Thursday night.

The Blackhawks were called for six penalties against San Jose, which had the leagues sixth-best power play fifth-best on the road entering Thursdays game. San Jose scored two power-play goals and added Thorntons not long after another advantage in the third.

The effort was there, but I dont think sometimes the smarts were there, defenseman Brian Campbell said. Against St. Louis, we had a ton of penalties, before that when we won four games in a row, we took either (no penalties), one or two in every game. Especially against a team like San Jose, youre killing off that many penalties you get out of sync.

Coach Joel Quenneville was unhappy with the lack of discipline and some of the calls.

Ill disagree 100 percent with two calls tonight that I dont even know where they came from. One (on Brent Seabrook) put us down 5 on 3 and the other (on Jassen Cullimore) led to the winning goal, said Quenneville, who was also frustrated with how the Blackhawks gave up some of those goals.

We almost got through that 5 on 3, which wouldve been nice. But that open-side play those plays, empty netters are plays we have to defend against and be in proper position, Quenneville said of the Sharks first power-play goal by Benn Ferriero. Our PK has struggled this year, but those tap-in goals are something weve got to get out of our repertoire.

Marty Turco, who stopped 40 against St. Louis on Tuesday, allowed four goals on just 20 shots against San Jose.

I couldve made a couple more saves, couldve been the difference, Turco said. I certainly dont make excuses for myself.

But despite the errors, the Blackhawks battled back. Troy Brouwer scored a power-play goal with 22.9 seconds remaining in the second period and Campbell came through with just a half second left in the period to tie the score 3-3.

That was a big lift going into the third, Seabrook said. We thought we got some energy from the second period.

The Sharks, however, got over it quick.

There were a few F-bombs for about a minute and then we kind of calmed the dressing room down shortly after, said Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle. We just said, Hey, weve still got a chance to win the game. It took about a minute but it did calm down after that.

The Blackhawks were finding success with good, clean hockey. The last two games, theyve had anything but.

We were taking too many penalties and its tough to get back into it sometimes, Campbell said. I still felt the puck battles were pretty strong tonight. But its unacceptable to not do everything right every night.

Foley, Olczyk extended

The Blackhawks re-signed broadcasting tandem Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk to three-year extensions on Thursday. The deals will keep play-by-play broadcaster Foley and television analyst Olczyk through the 2013-14 season.

Foley has been with the Blackhawks for 28 seasons, calling games for the team from 1981-2006 before returning to the booth to start the 2008-09 season.

Olczyk played 16 seasons in the NHL, including five with the Blackhawks. Hes been a TV analyst for the Blackhawks over the past five seasons.

Mothers days

The Blackhawks will have their moms on their latest road trip when they head to Los Angeles on New Years Day. It will be the first time the Blackhawks have had such a trip. Players figure manners will definitely be in order.

Im sure guys will be on best behavior, defenseman Brent Seabrook said. A lot of please and thank you.

Quennevilles mother will also be attending.

The enthusiasm just from my own mother coming on this trip, usually shes excited for Christmas but shes excited about the moms trip, Quenneville said Thursday morning. Everyones excited. The dads trip was great, a lot of fun.

Niemis return

Niemi stopped 26 of 29 for his third victory vs. the Blackhawks and first back at the United Center. Niemi said it was different coming back.

It was a funny feeling, he said. Today was even more exciting. Getting to morning practice and seeing the Blackhawks trainers was great and made it feel like a little more than just one game.

Briefly

Jack Skille was a healthy scratch against the Sharks on Thursday. Of that, Quenneville said, we had some tough decisions. Jordan (Hendrys) played well up front and we were looking for consistency.

Fernando Pisani was out due to illness.

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

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The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.