Niemi stones Hawks again, Sharks bite in OT

338244.jpg

Niemi stones Hawks again, Sharks bite in OT

Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010
1:33 AM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

SAN JOSE, Calif. Viktor Stalbergs rebound shot in the second period beat Antti Niemi. Unfortunately for the Chicago Blackhawks, it wouldnt beat the whistle.

Stalbergs potential go-ahead goal was waived off after a referee blew the whistle first, and Ryan Clowes second goal of the night was the game-winner as the San Jose Sharks beat the Blackhawks 2-1 at HP Pavilion on Saturday night.

Jack Skille threw a shot at Niemi and the official, apparently thinking the Sharks goaltender had possession, blew the whistle. But Niemi never had it, and Stalberg knocked the loose puck in before it was waived off.

Thats the way things seem to be going for me right now, said Stalberg, who was benched in the third period of the Blackhawks 5-3 victory over Dallas on Wednesday. (Niemi) never had it, I dont know why he blew (the whistle) so quickly. You wait a half second its a goal. But it happens.

Jonathan Toews said the referee admitted his mistake.

He admitted he was wrong, that he blew the whistle too early. You appreciate that, but it still doesnt give you a 2-1 lead, he said. But youre not going to sit here and let something that happens like that dictate the final score of the game.

The Blackhawks still had their opportunities to make that waived-off goal a moot point. Jordan Hendry scored his first goal of the season but the Blackhawks couldnt get another one past Niemi.

You cant complain, coach Joel Quenneville said. Sometimes its just a quick whistle. But we battled.

Corey Crawford came one victory short of tying Denis DeJordys 1964 mark for consecutive triumphs by a Blackhawks rookie goaltender (8). Still, Crawford deserved a big chunk of credit for the game getting to overtime in the first place. Crawford stopped 28 of 30, including some big ones at critical times. His stick save on a late first-period Sharks shot kept the game tied 1-1.

That couldve been his best game. Hes the reason we got a point, Quenneville said. He had two or three saves that looked like they were empty netters. His anticipation is there. He was sharp, quick and big. He was definitely a factor in this one.

Hendry scores

Jordan Hendry, who played in his first game since Nov. 7, scored his first goal of the season on Saturday night. Hendry played just over eight minutes, tallying three shots on goal and a plus-1 rating.

Hendry tried to get that elusive second goal a few times.

I havent scored two goals in a game for a long time, he said. I thought maybe if it rained it could pour.

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

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.”