Blackhawks find way to beat Hurricanes

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
11:08
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks were missing their points leader in Patrick Kane on Friday. They were without two other key forwards in Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell, who had combined for 29 goals this season.

Defenseman Sheldon Brookbank was playing forward. Defenseman David Rundblad was playing in his first game since March 9. Forward Jeremy Morin was recalled Friday and found himself getting power-play minutes.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Toews
Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews had an off night but still found a way to impact the game with his short-handed goal in the third period to lift the Hawks to victory.
The Blackhawks put a team on the ice Friday looking nothing like it usually does. But, despite their lineup and enduring stretches of Friday's game in which they weren't playing at their best, the Blackhawks achieved what's most important at this time of season -- two points in a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

With the win, the Blackhawks pulled a bit more ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for second place in the Central Division. The Blackhawks moved to 97 points after 71 games, while the Avalanche remained at 94 points after losing to the Boston Bruins on Friday.

"That's one of those things you have to learn how to play without some of your best players," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We've done it without [Marian Hossa], now [Saad and Kane]. It doesn't matter if someone's nursing something. We need to find a way to fill that void. Some guys are ready to go to assume more responsibility. They showed that preparation tonight."

Toews did his part late in the game. Despite having an off night on faceoffs -- losing 10-of-22 there -- and being called for two penalties, Toews redeemed himself by scoring a breakaway goal while the Blackhawks were short-handed in the third period. The goal broke a 2-2 tie and proved to be the game winner.

Toews wasn't ecstatic about his game either way.

"I can't say I'm too happy about the way I played tonight," Toews said. "Scoring a goal doesn't make it all better. I got to find a way to be more productive and keep that success going, I guess."

Before Toews came through, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford held off the Hurricanes and their power play. The Blackhawks went to the box six times on the night, and the Hurricanes created on their man advantages. They had 13 shots on their power play.

Crawford stood strong against the Hurricanes' barrage of shots. He gave up one power-play goal, which came on a 5-on-3 opportunity. They put 14 shots on him in the second period, getting only one by him. He stopped 26 of 28 shots.

"Corey was excellent," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought he had a really strong game. One of those games where he made a difference. Timely saves on the penalty kill, a couple all-alone looks right in front of him. Did the right things tonight, so you're happy with his effort. He looked big and in control."

Blackhawks forwards Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg also each ended eight-game goal droughts, scoring in the second period. Sharp's goal was his 30th of the season, and Versteeg's was his 11th.

Quenneville was pleased with the win, but he wasn't pausing to enjoy it for too long. As he understood, a lot can still happen in the playoff race with 11 regular-season games left.

"We still got a busy stretch here, a number of games in a short amount of time here," Quenneville said. "We just keep going here and try to keep sustaining some momentum here. We'll see. I know we got a couple more home games here. Let's just try to get the next two and see how it all plays out. As you get a little tighter to the end, you get a better indication of what's going to really unfold."
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
36 16 20 11
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 16
AssistsP. Kane 20
+/-K. Versteeg 17
GAAC. Crawford 1.87