The NHL and NHLPA talked about the leagues latest proposalvia conference call on Saturday. And it looks like theyll at least keeptalking, if not necessarily negotiating through the weekend.The two sides will keep talking through Sunday, according tovarious reports. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Associated Pressthat there will be some more informal sessions in the morning (on Sunday).Nothing planned beyond that.Ifwhen those turn into more formal talks is unknown. Thetwo sides have plenty to talk about in terms of the leagues latest proposal, a288-page document that the NHL presented to the players association onThursday. The league is still offering the make-whole payment of 300,something it threatened to take off the table when talks stalled and got ugly in early December. The NHL did offer a few changes, including increasing aplayers maximum contract length to six years instead of the previous five,which Daly at the time called the hill we will die on. It remains seven yearsif a player re-signs with his current team. The salary variance was also raisedfrom 5 to 10 percent.The league is still looking for a 10-year collectivebargaining agreement, with the ability to opt out after eight years.The clock is ticking on saving any type of NHL season. Ifthere is one, commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear that at least 48 gamesneed to be played. Games are currently canceled through Jan. 14.
Patrick Kane scored his 24th goal of the season and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winner as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night.
The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 and are one point within the Minnesota Wild, whose bye ends on Monday night. Duncan Keith recorded a secondary assist for his 500th career point. Scott Darling, starting for Corey Crawford (illness), stopped 30 of 32 shots.
The Blackhawks got off to a 2-0 start in the first 12 minutes of the game, thanks to Jonathan Toews' 16th goal of the season and Kane's power-play goal. But the Blues kept chipping away and forced a tie game by the end of the second period.
But the second line, which hasn't been quite as productive lately, got in on the act late in the third. Panarin threw a perfect feed to Anisimov, who scored his 22nd of the season with 5:20 remaining in regulation.
Tanner Kero added an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds remaining.
Illinois' last-ditch effort to reach the NCAA tournament is still alive.
The Illini won for the third straight time and the fourth time in their last five games Sunday night, using a monstrous second half to fly past the Nebraska Cornhuskers by a 73-57 score in Lincoln.
Illinois started the Big Ten season 3-8, but with this recent surge it's up to 7-9 and with two regular-season games remaining has at the very least given itself a much better position in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and perhaps has played itself into a spot on the NCAA tournament bubble.
Defense has been the driving force throughout this recent stretch, and Sunday was no different, with Nebraska scoring just 57 points, the second straight game in which Illinois has held its opponent under 60 points.
But offense told the story Sunday, with the Illini catching fire in the second half and shooting the lights out at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Illinois shot 59.1 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, including a stellar 8-for-13 from 3-point range. The Illini outscored the Huskers by a 43-29 margin after halftime.
All in all, Illinois shot 48.1 percent on the night and 13-for-26 from behind the 3-point line. The Illini's 73-point output was their highest since Jan. 25.
Malcolm Hill had a game-high 19 points and moved past Cory Bradford for fifth place on the program's all-time scoring list. Tracy Abrams joined Hill in double figures with 13 points. Hill and Abrams each hit four 3-pointers. Maverick Morgan scored 12 points.
Tai Webster scored 17 points for Nebraska, the only Husker in double figures on a poor offensive night. The team shot 37.5 percent from the field and went just 4-for-15 from 3-point range.
Illinois still seems like a bit of a longshot to make the NCAA tournament given its 17-12 overall record and the weakness of the Big Ten this season. But things are getting real late in the season. This surge could very well help the Illini end their three-year tournament drought and could do big things for head coach John Groce, who has had his job status talked about all season long.
Illinois' final two regular-season bouts come this week against Michigan State and at Rutgers.