Niemi stones Hawks again, Sharks bite in OT

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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 acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

The Blackhawks made a minor league deal on Saturday, announcing the acquisition of forward Michael Latta from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.

Latta, 25, has two goals and four assists in 29 games this season with the Ontario (Calif.) Reign of the American Hockey League.

He has four goals and 13 assists in 113 career games in the National Hockey League, all with the Washington Capitals from 2013-16.

Latta, who was a third-round pick (No. 72 overall) by the Nashville Predators in 2009, will report to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. He carries a $600,000 cap hit, and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Schilling ranked second among defensemen on the IceHogs with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 40 games, and had a minus-3 rating. The 28-year-old blue liner signed a two-year contract worth $575,000 per season with the Blackhawks in July 2015.

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

See the Blackhawks get off to a slow start. See the Blackhawks get outshot. See the Blackhawks lean on their goaltending. See the Blackhawks find some offense in the third period. See the Blackhawks win.

This is a story the Blackhawks have written and played out plenty this season. Despite all evidence that it should work out to the contrary, the Blackhawks continue to pull out victories. But as we're well into the second half of the season, how much longer can they win with this formula? And is this, more than anything, a testament to how much they need to acquire someone (or plural) at the deadline to bolster their forward lineup?

Entering Sunday night's game against Vancouver the Blackhawks remain second in the Western Conference, two points behind Minnesota. Not surprisingly, they enter Sunday coming off another one-goal victory, a 1-0 decision over Boston on Friday night. Friday's game was cut from the same cloth as so many other one-goal games this season (please see above for the script). 

Here's how the Blackhawks are doing in one-goal games (through 48 games played this season) and how they've done in previous seasons:

Year Record
2016-17 18-7-5
2015-16 17-7-9
2014-15 22-13-6
2013-14 17-8-15
2012-13 19-3-5 (lockout yr.)
2011-12 22-6-11
2010-11 16-13-9
2009-10 23-9-8

The Blackhawks played 41 one-goal games (half of their regular-season games) in the 2014-15 season. Thirty of their 48 games this season have been one-goal games. But again, it comes down to how you're winning those games, and the Blackhawks are winning just about all of them in the same way: deal with a slow start and come back in the third period, relying on goaltending the entire time.

Being outshot the amount of times the Blackhawks have this season remains alarming. Sure, sometimes a lot of shots don't mean a lot of quality chances. But it's still better than minimal shots, and any shot can be an opportunity for a rebound, a deflection, something. From our stats guru Chris Kamka, here's a breakdown of the Blackhawks' shots per game vs. opponents, dating back to 2008-09:

Year Shots/Gm Opp. Shots/Gm Diff.
2008-09 32.7 28.6 +4.2
2009-10 34.1 25.1 +9.1
2010-11 32.2 28.7 +3.6
2011-12 31.5 28.6 +3.0
2012-13 31.1 26.2 +4.9
2013-14 33.1 27.2 +6.0
2014-15 33.9 30.2 +3.8
2015-16 30.5 30.8 -0.3
2016-17 29.3 31.1 -1.7

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It's no surprise that the Blackhawks' differential was especially good in their Stanley Cup-winning seasons (and even 2013-14, when they went to the Western Conference Final). Those Blackhawks teams were deep, especially at forward. They weren't waiting for the perfect shooting opportunities as much as just firing. They had great four-line rotations, something they've sorely been lacking the past two seasons, which makes a difference with puck possession.

The Blackhawks will see what's available at the trade deadline. As I wrote a few days ago, there will be names out there but, considering some teams are still hoping for playoff spots, you take mentions for what they are right now. Over the next few weeks the picture will become clearer, and adding the right depth could rekindle that four-line rotation.

We've said throughout this season that the Blackhawks can't keep this up. We said it in November, and December, and now. Understand where we're coming from here; the Blackhawks can absolutely keep winning one-goal games. They've shown that in recent seasons and in the postseason, when the ability to do that is critical. But it's doubtful they can keep doing it the way they have most this season.