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Saturday, April 20, 2013
Hawks happy heading into the playoffs

By Scott Powers

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks' result -- a 3-2 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes -- was ultimately irrelevant Saturday.

While the Blackhawks would love to win every game, there's no shame in losing in a shootout at this point of the season, especially considering where the Blackhawks have put themselves atop the Western Conference standings.

Brent Seabrook, Patrick Kane, Nick Leddy, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad
Despite a shootout loss Saturday, the Blackhawks are happy with their play of late as they look to the playoffs.
What really matters this time of the season is how the Blackhawks are playing overall. And in the eyes of captain Jonathan Toews, the team is playing just how it wants leading into the final four games of the season.

"We're playing against some teams who are hungry, that are working really hard to get points to earn a playoff spot," Toews said. "We're making it as hard as we can on those teams. We've shown we can keep rolling four lines. We can kill penalties. Right now, the power play is back on track the last couple games. I'd say we got a lot of confidence in all the areas of game. That's exactly what we want to get going these last few games or so."

The Blackhawks have to be especially giddy about what the power play has done the past two games. After going scoreless on the power play in nine consecutive games, the Blackhawks have scored four power-play goals in their past two games. Brent Seabrook, who was celebrating his 28th birthday, scored both power-play goals Saturday.

The power play had been the one major concern heading into the playoffs, and now it seems it could benefit the Blackhawks in a tight playoff affair.

"It was good," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the power play. "I like the power play. I thought we had good motion, good movement, good options, thinking shot. Seabs' one-timer, Seabs in the slot, couple nice feeds as well. Nice to see some finished product. I think that definitely was a sore point for a stretch of games, nice to have something positive come out of it on the power-play side."

As good as the power play was Saturday, the Blackhawks' penalty kill was just as solid. The Blackhawks killed off all five of the Coyotes' power plays. During the Blackhawks' 11-game points streak, they have allowed two power-play goals in 28 opportunities.

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford also bounced back from a rough first period Saturday after giving up two goals, including a bouncing puck that was shot from near the center line. He finished with 29 saves, including 15 in the third period.

Along with the power play, Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has appeared to find his groove again the past two games. Before Friday’s game, Kane said he was unhappy with his play recently. On Friday, he scored a goal and dished out an assist. On Saturday, he added two more assists. He now has 50 points on the season and is making a late push on league leader Sidney Crosby's 56 points.

And now the Blackhawks get to face their rival, the Vancouver Canucks, on the road Monday. Even if there isn't much on the line, Quenneville says he expects another spirited game.

"There's a lot of intensity, there's a lot of emotion," Quenneville said. "We'll see where it is meaning-wise on their end, but at the same time we know it's going to be competitive and the pace is always frantic, always make for a great game."