Chicago Blackhawks

Stalberg's third-period goals secure Hawks win

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Stalberg's third-period goals secure Hawks win

The Blackhawks were flirting with their second consecutive loss, something they stressed avoiding after Fridays dismal 3-0 loss in Carolina.

But with two quick tallies, Viktor Stalberg ended any worries about that.

Stalberg scored twice in a span of a minute, 58 seconds and Ray Emery got his second victory of the season in the Blackhawks 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

It was an interesting game for the Blackhawks, who had lost momentum and their one-goal lead by the end of the second period. Worse, the power play came up empty in bizarre ways the Hawks had three disallowed goals and two came on the power play.

But a big third period was the salve for all of that. And Stalberg was big there. His first goal came when Nick Leddy poke-checked a puck past a Jackets defender and to Stalberg, who worked to the front to beat Blue Jackets goalie Allen York. Less than two minutes later, Stalberg was alone on Yorks left side, punching in an Andrew Brunette attempted wraparound.

That was a great play by Stally there. He made a great move, took it to the net. His speed is always effective, coach Joel Quenneville said. We were ordinary in the second period we lost the momentum when they tied it up. We were better in the third.

Stalberg said the Blackhawks just kept pushing.

I think we played all right the first 40 minutes and gave up some goals we dont want to give up, but we found ways to come back, Stalberg said. The biggest thing is taking two points and not losing two in a row. Thats what we stressed."

Dave Bolland scored his second short-handed goal of the season. Marcus Kruger scored his first NHL career goal and Michael Frolik added an empty-netter. Leddy had two assists.

Emery, meanwhile, got stronger as the game continued. He stopped 27 of 29 overall for his second victory in as many starts.

They were buzzing at the start of the game, too. They came with some speed and just fired pucks through legs and stuff, Emery said of the Blue Jackets. I think we did a good job sorting plays out as the game went on and really took control.

Jonathan Toews said Emery has shown that mental focus and when it is his chance, even if it takes a few shots early we want to clear those pucks and make things easy on him. It was a solid game by him.

The Blackhawks are still collecting a good chunk of points, as they sit 6-2-2 through their first 10 games. They werent clicking through 40 minutes on Saturday, but they did save their best for the final 20.

I think we have more swagger this year. Were feeling were going to get out there and get that goal, Stalberg said of third periods. Last year we found ways to give them up. This year were finding ways to get go-ahead goals.

No goal

It was certainly a rarity, if not a first, as there were four disallowed goals in Saturdays game. The Blackhawks had three of them, two on the power play: Patrick Kanes was nullified because his stick was too high, Patrick Sharps was nixed by a high sticking penalty on Bryan Bickell and Bollands was waived off because he kicked it in the net.

Obviously thats something we dont see every day, Stalberg said. (Brunettes) been in the league a long time and he said thats the most hes seen in a long time.

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

The calendar is quickly approaching August and a majority of the NHL's top free agents have already signed new deals or found new homes. But there's one marquee player who has suddenly shaken loose, and will surely draw heavy interest across the league.

That would be 22-year-old defenseman Will Butcher, who informed the Colorado Avalanche that he will hit the open market and become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.

Butcher, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, was named the recipient of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, annually given to college hockey's top player, after scoring seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games during his senior campaign while helping Denver University capture its first national title since 2005. It's the second straight year NCAA's top player has elected not to sign with the club that drafted him, with Jimmy Vesey doing the same last year when he signed with the New York Rangers instead of the Nashville Predators.

So could Butcher be a real option for the Blackhawks? There's certainly a reason for both sides to be intrigued by a potential match. 

With Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya no longer in the picture, the Blackhawks could use a young, NHL-ready blue liner with top-four potential and Butcher provides just that.

He's a 5-foot-10, 186-pound puck-moving defenseman with high offensive upside but also plays a solid two-way game and is responsible in his own end. He carries a left-handed shot, quarterbacked Denver's No. 1 power play unit and possesses strong leadership skills after serving as the team's captain for two years.

While he is certainly no sure thing, Butcher would be as close to pro ready as any prospect in Chicago's system and could factor into the cards as soon as this season. It also doesn't hurt that he shared the same blue line at Denver as Blackhawks prospect Blake Hillman, who drew great reviews from Joel Quenneville at prospect camp.

The good news for the cap-crunched Blackhawks is that the maximum allowable salary for an entry-level contract is $925,000, so that eliminates the possibility of getting into a bidding war with other teams. Signing and performance bonuses can still be included, but that's the least of their worries if they can land a player of Butcher's caliber.

His decision will really come down to best fit and opportunity to play and win, and the Blackhawks can offer all of the above.

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson has called Chicago home ever since he was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2005. But now it's time for a new chapter.

After being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in June, the former Blackhawks defenseman officially said goodbye to the city he spent a decade in and helped bring three Stanley Cups to with an emotional Instagram post that perfectly sums up his time here:

One marriage. Two kids. Three rings. 

Hjalmarsson will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Blackhawks fans.