No rust after rest, Hawks cruise to 4th straight win


No rust after rest, Hawks cruise to 4th straight win

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
Posted 8:34 PM Updated 9:48 PM
By Tracey Myers

Marian Hossa hadnt played in nearly a month. Goaltender Marty Turco hadnt gotten a victory in more than one. On Sunday, they both had solid outings.

Turco stopped 26 of 27 for his first victory since Nov. 17 and Hossa had two assists in his first game since Nov. 29 as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 at the United Center. Patrick Sharp scored his 19th and 20th goals this season for the Blackhawks, who won their fourth in a row.

Turco got the starting call Saturday night after Corey Crawford came down with the flu. Turco, who had struggled in the few starts hes gotten recently, was big early with 14 first-period stops. He was 2:26 away from getting his second shutout this season before Derick Brassard scored a power-play goal. Still, it was an outing Turco needed.

It was good to feel the way I did. Its been a while since Ive had this feeling, said Turco. It was a good step forward for me but huge for the team to continue what were doing at home.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Turco was big in that first period. He gave us a chance to get our feet under us.

Hossa, meanwhile, looked like he had little to no rust from that lower-body injury that sidelined him the last 10 games. While the Blackhawks looked a bit sluggish to start, Hossa came out flying. He was also strong on the penalty kill, which went 3 for 4 on Sunday night.

I felt pretty good. I did lots of skating with the assistant coaches and getting a lot of extra time on the ice, Hossa said. You need to do that, especially missing a month off. I just needed to get the game timing back.

Hossas wraparound attempt led to the Blackhawks first goal, a Tomas Kopecky rebound.

Kopy texted me before the game and said, I hope you had a good nap. Pass me the puck so I can score. Hossa said with a laugh.

Then theres Sharp, who continues to be a steady offensive presence. His first goal ended up being the game-winner, the fifth time hes had that this season. His second came 37 seconds after Dave Bolland gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 advantage.

His (first goal) was a big goal for us, coach Joel Quenneville said of Sharp. Getting the two-goal lead was big. Hes had a real good start to the season and a lot of quality and timely goals as well.

Close, but

Jack Skille nearly tallied the first penalty shot in United Center history on Sunday, but Columbus goaltender Mathieu Garon came up with the stop on his backhand attempt.

I wouldve liked to have that one back. Ill be dreaming about that later, said Skille, who thought that was his first career penalty shot in any league. That was one of the cooler experiences Ive had. I just wanted to put the puck in the back of the net and hear the horn.

Skille said he wasnt thinking about making any crazy moves on the shot.

Ill leave that to the Mighty Ducks, he said.

Its better to give

Patrick Kane talked Christmas gifts after Sunday mornings skate, specifically the ones he gave family. Kane gave his dad a Stanley Cup ring and his sisters Stanley Cup bracelets.

Once my sisters got that they were flaunting that pretty good, Kane said. For my dad, I might have ordered the ring a little tight. He said it was great but his finger was completely red. He said it was just something youve got to work on I and said, Dad, lets just get it stretched. They enjoyed it.

Kane (left ankle) said he felt good coming out of Sunday mornings skate. He said hell see how he feels after Mondays practice, but he could play Tuesday in St. Louis. Kane said hes dealing with some pain but its not bad.

Its a little bit tender but overall its definitely a lot better than where I was last week, he said. Its one of those things that feels fine when you walk on it but put it in a boot and it just feels a little bit different."

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

Five Things to watch: Blackhawks host Flames tonight on CSN

Five Things to watch: Blackhawks host Flames tonight on CSN

The Blackhawks (3-3, 6 points) take on the Calgary Flames (1-4-1, 3 points) on Monday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with Blackhawks Pregame Live at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final horn to get analysis and player reaction on Blackhawks Postgame Live.

Here are five things to watch for during tonight's game:

1. Anisimov, Panik look to stay hot: Artem Anisimov and Richard Panik are both tied for fourth in the NHL in points with eight apiece. Panik has recorded at least one point in five of six games this season, including a hat trick in last week's win over the Predators and a game-tying goal against the Maple Leafs in the final minute of regulation. Anisimov has shaken off a slow start and recorded seven points in his last three games.

2. The Captain looks to light the lamp: Twelve different Blackhawks have scored a goal through six games. None of those players are named Jonathan Toews. The Captain has recorded two assists and actually leads the Blackhawks in penalty minutes (nine), and all 15 of his shots on goal - second on the team - have been stopped. The good news is Toews has 21 points in 31 career games against the Flames.

3. Johnny Hockey takes his talents to the Windy City: The 23-year-old All-Star might remind you of a certain No. 88 on the Blackhawks, and for good reason. The 5-foot-9, 157-pound Gaudreau was sixth in the NHL in points last season, and he led the Flames in goals, assists and points. He's got just three points in six games this season for the 1-5 Flames, but he's a candidate to make something happen in an instant whenever he's on the ice.

4. Former Blackhawks return to the UC: It'll be a small reunion of sorts for the Blackhawks and Flames on Monday night. Calgary currently has three former Blackhawks on its roster in Kris Versteeg, Troy Brouwer and Michal Frolik. Versteeg and Brouwer were part of the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup run, Frolik was on the squad in 2013, and Versteeg returned to the Madhouse in Madison in 2015.

5. Brian Elliott struggling with new squad: The last time the Blackhawks saw Brian Elliott he was leading the Blues to a Game 7 victory with 31 saves. He  hasn't found that same sort of success early in his first season with the Flames; he's 0-3 and has allowed 14 goals. He's likely to start in goal tonight against the Blackhawks.

For more on how the two teams stack up, click here for all the stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.

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Richard Panik fueling Blackhawks' top line

Richard Panik fueling Blackhawks' top line

Richard Panik was coming off his first career hat trick last week when he was asked about solidifying his spot on the top line with Jonathan Toews.

“I wouldn’t call it mine, for now,” Panik said.

The right wing’s hesitancy was understandable: Outside of some Blackhawks veterans, your place on a line is only as good as your last game.

But considering how he’s playing right now and the amount of goals he’s scored, you’d think Panik will be a top liner for a little while longer.

Panik scored the game-tying goals against his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, with 88 seconds remaining in regulation on Saturday night. There was probably a little feeling of vindication for Panik on that goal – Panik spent last season with the Leafs’ minor-league team until he was traded to the Blackhawks. But no matter the opponent, Panik’s been a scoring threat.

“We didn’t expect six goals in six games but we knew he’d be an offensive threat for us,” Toews said. “He’s showing consistently. He had the hat trick – when you have a game like that, the puck keeps finding you and he’s making no mistakes around the net. He’s shown he can score goals in any which way.”

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Part of the reason Panik’s back on the top line was the Blackhawks wanted to get more balance among the forwards. Marian Hossa, a longtime sight on that line, is on the third. But again, it’s all in what you do with the opportunity.

“The position he ended up being in was probably more so [for] being ready every game, consistent, doing the right things,” coach Joel Quenneville said after Saturday’s game. “He has all the tools we look for. He’s coming up with loose pucks, hanging around the net, going to the hard areas, giving us some physicality and finish as well. That was a big one, for sure, so he’s been a very pleasant start for us and for himself.”

The Blackhawks will always take goals no matter who scores them. But it’s how and from where Panik’s scoring those goals that’s especially good for the Blackhawks. Constantly looking for a net-front presence, Panik’s providing it. Most of his goals have been within a few feet of the net.

“Yeah, I’m just trying to find the space in front of the net and the goals are scored from there,” he said. “That’s the area I want to go to and it’s working.”

In six games Panik has already reached the totals he had in his 30 games with the Blackhawks last season (six goals, two assists). Panik approaches every game on the first line like it could be his last up there, and considering how often the Blackhawks change combinations that’s a smart approach. But the Blackhawks were looking for more consistent scoring on that top line, and as long as Panik helps provide that, he’ll stay put.

“Consistency was my biggest weakness. I’m just focusing on that, bringing it every night,” Panik said. “I think I know what I’m capable of. I know I can play on this level. Now I have an opportunity. I just have to take advantage of it and keep playing this way.”