Skille strikes twice, lifts Hawks to third straight win

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Skille strikes twice, lifts Hawks to third straight win

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010
Poste 10:03 PM Updated 11:39 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Jack Skille came up empty when he fired nine shots on goal against Detroit last Friday. Against Nashville on Wednesday, his percentage was much, much better.

Skille shot twice and scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks got the momentum they were hoping for entering the Christmas respite, as theyre now on a three-game winning streak.

And once again, the Blackhawks won by playing simple, relatively mistake-free hockey. They were solid on defense, they kept penalties low and allowed Corey Crawford to see the shots he needed.

Scoring first was certainly a big factor, said coach Joel Quenneville of Dave Bollands goal, which came off a turnover in the first period. We didnt get frustrated. I thought the guys were very smart and we did what we had to do to be successful.

Ive got to commend the whole group. Our focus was in the right place, Quenneville continued. It wouldve been easy to put your mind elsewhere, relax out there. That was important.

For Skille, it was all about continuing to shoot. His first was a pretty power-play goal on which he waited then fired top-shelf on Anders Lindback. His second put the Blackhawks up 3-1 midway through the third.

I think (my shooting percentage) is still pretty low, Skille said with a grin. (Dave) Bolland made an unbelievable pass to me on the first goal, and I was fortunate the puck bounced my way on the second.

Four of Skilles six goals this season have come against the Predators. So why has he had so much success against Nashville?

I have no idea, he said. Personally Im just focusing on getting the puck in and I think that just puts me in the right position on the ice.

Crawford stopped 24 of 25 shots en route to his third consecutive victory. Bryan Bickell continued his hot streak, scoring a goal for the fourth time in his fifth game
Keeping it simple, thats about it, Bickell said of his success lately. Qs telling me to keep it simple, put shots on net and theyre going in. I cant complain.

The Blackhawks are now playing the type of hockey they need at home: simple and gritty, minus the pretty and cute. Theyre more familiar with each other, their game is sharper and its paying off in much-needed points.

Were finding our way now, Bolland said. Guys are finding their roles. It took a little bit longer than we wanted it to, but were finding our roles on the ice now.

Injured progressing

Viktor Stalberg (head) was cleared to play but was kept out of Wednesday nights game against Nashville. Stalberg said hell take advantage of the extra days to keep improving.

Ill get a few more days in between and make sure Im 100 percent to go (after Christmas), said Stalberg, who added hes working to get back to game shape. When it gets up to four (days off the ice), its like starting over again. Its amazing how you can lose it so quickly. But Ill keep working away and be ready soon again.

Marian Hossa skated with the team on Wednesday and Quenneville said he should be just about ready to go after Christmas. Patrick Kane skated on his own Wednesday; Quenneville said he did well.

Well see how he comes out of the break with a chance of playing in one of those first couple of games, Quenneville said of Kane.

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

Blackhawks blow three-goal lead, fall in OT at Lightning

Blackhawks blow three-goal lead, fall in OT at Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Yanni Gourde had a breakaway goal 4:25 into overtime and the Tampa Bay Lightning rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Monday night.

Victor Hedman set up the winner with his third assist of the game.

Tampa Bay, which trails Boston by a point for the second Eastern Conference wild card, got two goals from Jonathan Drouin. Ondrej Palat and Anton Stralman also scored, and Andrei Vasilevskiy, who got pulled 14 minutes into the first after allowing three goals on eight shots, returned to start the second and finished with 25 saves.

Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, Tomas Jurco and Richard Panik scored for the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks, who were coming off a 7-0 loss Saturday night at Florida. Scott Darling stopped 25 shots.

After the Blackhawks went up 4-1 midway through the second on Panik's goal, Tampa Bay tied it at 4 on Drouin's goals and one by Stralman in a 4:39 span.

Chicago took a 3-1 lead after the first period on goals by Panarin, Kane and Jurco. Palat, playing in his 300th NHL game, had the Tampa Bay goal.

Palat and Drouin's second goal came on power plays after Chicago was penalized for delay of game after shooting the puck over the glass.

The Blackhawks have the 24th ranked short-handed unit in the NHL.

Nikita Kucherov had two assists to set a Tampa Bay record for points in a single month with 22. The right wing has four assists and 11 points during a five-game point streak.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. How will Blackhawks respond to worst loss of season?

The Blackhawks suffered their worst loss of the season on Saturday in a 7-0 rout at the hands of the Panthers. It was the first time they've lost by at least seven goals since 2011 when Edmonton beat them 9-2 and the first time they lost 7-0 since 2001 against San Jose; the Blackhawks lost to Washington 6-0 earlier this year. But by no means was Saturday their worst effort of the season. A questionable interference penalty by Marcus Kruger led to a two-man advantage, which Florida cashed in on with a goal and another shortly after, and it opened up the floodgates. Expect a big bounce-back against a hungry Lightning team.

2. Lightning fighting for playoff lives.

Every game is a must-win for the Lightning with eight games remaining on their schedule. They're three points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on the Bruins, who currently occupy that spot, but still have to jump the Islanders. The Lightning didn't do themselves any favors by losing three straight in regulation last week, but they've won two in a row and tonight will be the first of a four-game homestand for them.

3. Keep the puck off Nikita Kucherov's stick.

There isn't a hotter player in the NHL right now than Kucherov, who has seven goals and two assists in his last four games. He's had two hat tricks in the past month, and he ranks sixth in the league with 78 points and second in goals with 38. You know how lethal Artemi Panarin's slapshot is from the left faceoff circle? That's Kucherov, but on the right side.

4. Staying disciplined.

The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team in the league, but they acted out of character Saturday by racking up 30 penalty minutes. They were also slapped with a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties, which isn't something you normally see from Joel Quenneville's teams. Ryan Hartman, who along with Marcus Kruger was penalized for "yapping" at the officials, accepted responsibility for it after the game, and insisted it "won't happen again."

5. Special teams to play key factor?

On the flip side, the Lightning are the second-most penalized team, averaging just over 11 penalty minutes per game. Power plays will be key for the Blackhawks in an effort to keep Tampa Bay's collection of talented young goal scorers off the ice. The Lightning also boast a top-five power play unit with a 22 percent success rate. Both teams would be better served staying out of the box and making this a 5-on-5 battle.

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