Quick Hits: Blackhawks’ second line erupts in win over Jets

Quick Hits: Blackhawks’ second line erupts in win over Jets

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Finding offense against the Winnipeg Jets: for the Blackhawks this season, it hasn't been easy.

And even on Friday night, it ultimately wasn't about what the Blackhawks produced in their 5-2 victory over the Jets. It was about what they gave up, and between Corey Crawford's work and that of the defense, that wasn't much.

But this trip isn't over just yet. So before we wrap it up in Edmonton, let's look at the Quick Hits from Friday's game:

What Worked: The Blackhawks' second line. It wasn't that long ago that Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov were so quiet offensively that some wondered if it was time to split them up. Coach Joel Quenneville wasn't hearing of it; the potential of what they could do together was too strong. Good thinking. The line was tremendous on Friday night, with Kane and Anisimov each having a goal and an assist and Panarin recording a goal and two assists.  

What Didn't Work: The Jets attempt at a comeback. Winnipeg had its chances, including two power plays in the final eight minutes of regulation. But unlike their last meeting in Chicago, the Jets weren't going to get the best of the Blackhawks in this one. The Blackhawks defended well, and Duncan Keith's goal, which made it 3-1 at the time, was a dagger to the Jets.

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Star of the game: Brent Seabrook. Sure, it'd be easy to go with Kane (see his latest milestone number below). But Seabrook also deserves credit for a strong game. Look at his block late in the second period: if that goal gets through it's a 2-2 game and who knows how things carry over into the third period. Seabrook played just under 20 minutes against the Jets, recording three shots on goal and six blocked shots, tied for team best with Niklas Hjalmarsson. Corey Crawford was grateful. "Yeah, he was awesome out there. He had like 12 saves," Crawford said.

He Said It: "When we began this trip after the break, it was an important stretch for us knowing we could make or break our year. We captured some momentum here going into the last part of it. It's been a real positive trip for us, and tonight may have been the best." – Coach Joel Quenneville

By the Numbers: 

269 – Career goals for Patrick Kane, who is now sixth all-time on the Blackhawks list in that category. That's also the most goals for an American-born player in Blackhawks history. 

185 – Multi-point games for Kane (goal, assist), tying Joe Thornton for sixth most in the league since Kane's rookie season. (Stat courtesy of TSN StatsCentre). 

1 for 16 – Blackhawks power play vs. the Jets through these first two tonight and the previous four games.

5 – Goals for the Blackhawks on Friday night. They had five goals in their previous four games combined against the Jets this season.

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.

Blackhawks sign prospect Matheson Iacopelli to entry-level contract

Blackhawks sign prospect Matheson Iacopelli to entry-level contract

The Blackhawks officially agreed to terms with prospect Matheson Iacopelli on a two-year entry-level contract that begins next season and runs through the 2018-19 campaign.

He will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 22-year-old forward recently completed his sophomore season at Western Michigan, where he scored a team-high 20 goals and added 16 assists in 40 games. It was a huge bounce-back year after recording only one goal and six assists in 27 games during his freshman season.

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A third-round pick (No. 83 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2014, Iacopelli possesses a dangerous shot and is a big-bodied winger at 6-foot-3, 206 pounds. His two-way game still needs fine-tuning, something he will certainly work on in Rockford, but he gives the IceHogs another much-needed scorer.

Iacopelli is the fourth Blackhawks prospect to sign this season out of college, joining John Hayden, Anthony Louis and Luc Snuggerud.