Chicago Blackhawks: Chicago Blackhawks

Scott Darling signs extension with Blackhawks

February, 22, 2015
Feb 22
9:40
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks signed goaltender Scott Darling to a two-year contract extension Sunday.

Darling, 26, was set to the become a restricted free agent after the season. He originally signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks in July 2014.

Darling is 5-2-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .927 save percentage with Chicago this season. He has also gone 14-8-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average and .927 save percentage for the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL. He was recalled by the Blackhawks on Sunday.

Darling, who is from Lemont, Illinois, played for eight different minor league teams in five different leagues before signing with the Blackhawks last year. He was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the sixth round in 2007.

Homestand becoming nightmare for Hawks

February, 22, 2015
Feb 22
7:26
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and their fans possessed grand visions for an eight-game homestand.

The Blackhawks never had such a long homestand, and everyone envisioned the possibilities. They were going to take care of home ice now in order to secure it for later, and make their move on the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. It had the makings of a nonstop party at the United Center for two-plus weeks.

The fans who didn't depart and remained for the third period of Sunday's 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins can fully grasp how far from a celebratory atmosphere the inside of the United Center was. Aside from the occasional shout from the beer vendors, the game may as well have been played in an empty building, as only the sounds of the puck hitting sticks and skates on ice filled the air.

[+] EnlargeNiklas Hjalmarsson
Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesBlackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said the team was very motivated after Friday's loss to the Avs, which made Sunday's drubbing by the Bruins all the more difficult to explain.
What couldn't be heard, but certainly could be felt -- from the team's bench to the 300-level -- was the shock of what had happened so quickly. The Blackhawks were in the game down by just a goal to begin the second period and suddenly found themselves trailing by five goals 20 minutes later. Add in the fact that Chicago was outscored 3-0 in the third period in a loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday and fell to 2-2-3 on the homestand, and those grand visions had been completely decimated by the time the final horn sounded Sunday.

"That was one of those games where you can't be happy about anything that went on today," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "The first period we're down 2-1. The second period was hard to watch. The third period was just another period.

"That definitely gets your attention. I know the last game was disappointing, but today is a different approach. So, across the board, we all should be looking forward to what we can do better."

The Bruins and Blackhawks entered Sunday's game with similar mindsets. Both teams were coming off bad losses, had been losing ground in the standings and were driven to fix that. The Bruins were the only ones to act on it, though. The situation was similar on Friday when the Avalanche appeared to just be hungrier than the Blackhawks.

"We were really motivated [after Friday]," Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "I couldn't really see this coming. Yeah, I don't really have an explanation.

"Obviously this was pretty embarrassing, especially in front of our home crowd. At the same time, they had a couple bounces that went their way. But they were better than us today, for sure. Have to admit that."

How the Blackhawks were outworked may not be explainable, but there are a number of reasons why Chicago hasn't been succeeding lately.

For one, the Blackhawks haven't been building leads in the first period. They are 19-2-0 when they lead after the first period. In their past 11 games, they have led once after the first period. They have been outscored 8-2 in the first period during that span.

Secondly, the Blackhawks still aren't getting consistent defensive play. Quenneville has tried a bit of everything in the defensive pairings and hasn't been satisfied. On Sunday, the overall defense had issues, but Michal Rozsival could have prevented two goals at the net and was on the ice for three goals total. The Blackhawks' defenseman depth was already questioned before Johnny Oduya suffered an injury Sunday that could keep him out a few games.

The Blackhawks also aren't getting a lot of scoring as of late. They have tallied 21 goals, including 11 5-on-5 goals, over the past 11 games, which is well below their 2.83 goals-per-game average. They also haven't been getting much production outside of their top-six forwards.

The Blackhawks have been a difficult team to put a finger on all season. They have had positive and negative stretches throughout their 60 games. They struggled to score early in the season, then went through a span in which they looked like the best team in the NHL, then went on the decline in late December, then were working their way back up to begin the current homestand, and again are trending the other way.

So what now? The Blackhawks know they have some issues, but they're not so easy to correct, as forward Patrick Kane admitted.

"If anything, I just think it shows when you're struggling -- it's not flip a switch and it's going to change right away," Kane said. "It's a process to get through and no matter how much talent, how much skill is in the room -- it's not like you can just turn it on and off. It's a process. We have to be way better starting right now in preparing ourselves for the next game."

The Blackhawks' dressing room was opened later than usual and an unusual number of players were still at their stalls when media members were allowed in after the game, but no one would officially say there was a team meeting or elaborate on what had been said.

Regardless, Hjalmarsson shared what had to be on all of his teammates' minds.

"We just have to find a way to get through this," Hjalmarsson said. "At the same time, this is the time to really show your true colors when stuff is going against you and you're not playing that great. It's going to be a good test for the group in here to find a way out of it."

Brandon Saad helps Blackhawks solve Jets

February, 6, 2015
Feb 6
10:44
PM CT
By Scott Billeck
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Brandon Saad finally cracked the code that is the Winnipeg Jets.

With 1:59 left in overtime, Saad -- who hadn't scored in six previous contests -- saw a chance to snap a couple of streaks and pounced. The marker, his 16th of the year, elevated the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 overtime win, a first against the Jets in four meetings this season.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane
Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY SportsAfter being shut out in their previous two games, Patrick Kane got the Blackhawks on the board in the second period against the Jets.
"My eyes opened pretty big there, I was pretty excited that puck found its way to me, and I am happy to get the goal," Saad said.

The win was Chicago's first in three games, having been shut out in their previous two contests.

"It's huge, especially coming after a couple losses there and at the end of a long trip," Saad said. "We just want to get wins here and close out this trip."

The win closed the gap between the Hawks (66 points) and both Nashville and St. Louis (72 points) in the Central Division.

Patrick Kane opened the Hawks' account on the night, scoring early in the second period via a sensational backhand deke that had Jets netminder Michael Hutchinson still unwinding himself after the game.

"It was nice to get that first one, especially when you haven't scored in a couple of games," said Kane, who finished with five shots on goal.

Kane said the Jets, as they have all season, presented challenges at every juncture of the 60-plus-minute affair.

"It was a playoff game out there, there wasn't too many chances each way," Kane said. "You obviously saw the shot totals [22-21 in favor of Chicago], and it was a pretty physical game -- it was tough to generate.

"It's big, it was a big game against that team and a big game for our team."

Coach Joel Quenneville, who notched his 300th career win behind the Blackhawks bench Friday, echoed the sentiments of his leading goal scorer and point-getter following the game.

"I wasn't choosy on who the team was," Quenneville said. "But, certainly, we were looking for the win against a team we have had a hard time with all year. I thought it was a hard game, tight the whole game, tight the whole way. It was almost like a playoff game, an important game."

Corey Crawford was solid when called upon, steering aside 20 of 21 shots in the game, and was praised by both coach and team following the win.

"He was excellent tonight," Quenneville said. "I thought he had two really good days, yesterday and this morning in the skates. He was very important for us tonight."

Added Kane: "He was unbelievable in Minnesota, it could have been five, six, seven nothing if he wasn't in net and playing the way he did. It's what we have come to expect from him. He's a great goaltender, top-notch in the league, and we are lucky to have him."

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 2, Jets 1 (OT)

February, 6, 2015
Feb 6
10:09
PM CT
By Scott Billeck
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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video

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Here's a snapshot of the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night at the MTS Centre.

How it happened: Brandon Saad scored his 16th goal of the season with 1:59 left in overtime as the Blackhawks snapped a two-game skid.

The Jets opened the scoring early in the first period via Mark Scheifele, who fired home his first goal in 11 games. Patrick Kane leveled the game with 2:50 gone in the second frame with his 26th on an unstoppable deke to snap the Hawks' scoreless drought at nearly two and a half hours.

Corey Crawford made 20 saves in the win.

What it means: The win brings the Hawks out of a two-game funk after they were previously shut out in both San Jose and Minnesota during their current seven-game road trip. The Hawks also gained some valuable ground on the St. Louis Blues, who were blown out 7-1 in Columbus on Friday. Chicago is within six points of both Nashville and St. Louis, who both sit at 72 points.

Chicago crept within a win of .500 since Jan. 1. The Blackhawks are 7-8-0 in that time.

Player of the game: Kane had five shots on goal, converting on one of them in the second period, and was all over the ice creating chances.

Stat of the game: The Blackhawks scored their first goal since last Friday, a span of 149:25 of game time. Kane got the marker, his team-leading 26th of the season.

What's next: The Blackhawks head to St. Louis to finish up their seven-game road trip Sunday night before heading back to Chicago to start an eight-game homestand Monday.

Chat wrap: Scott Powers talks Blackhawks

January, 8, 2015
Jan 8
10:45
AM CT
By Staff
ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers took your Blackhawks questions during a live chat Thursday. Click here to read the chat.

W2W4: Wild at Blackhawks

December, 16, 2014
12/16/14
12:36
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Here’s what to watch for when the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild play at the United Center on Tuesday:

• The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 games and are on a six-game home winning streak. They lead the Central Division with 43 points and have a 21-9-1 record.

• The Wild haven’t won or lost consecutive games over their last 10 games. They won their last game and will be looking for their first two-game winning streak since winning back-to-back games on Nov. 16 and Nov. 20. The Wild are 16-11-1 with 33 points.

• This will be the first of five games between the Blackhawks and Wild. They last met in the Western Conference semifinals last season. The Blackhawks eliminated the Wild in six games.

• Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta will make his second consecutive start. He’s 4-2-0 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .944 save percentage this season. Darcy Kuemper will likely start in net for the Wild. He is 11-9-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .906 save percentage this season.

• The Blackhawk will be without defenseman Duncan Keith due to an undisclosed illness. Keith leads the Blackhawks in ice time, and other defensemen will be relied upon against the Wild. Defenseman David Rundblad returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last five games. Defenseman Tim Erixon will play in his second game after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

• The Blackhawks’ lines will remain the same again. Their lines during the morning skate were Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Sharp, Daniel Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith.

Zach Parise leads the Wild 23 points. Nino Niederreiter leads them with 13 goals. Kane leads the Blackhawks with 14 goals and 29 points.

• The line of Bickell-Shaw-Sharp has had the team’s best possession numbers the last two games. Sharp has been back four games since missing a month with a lower-body injury.

• The Blackhawks rank first in the league with a 90.9 penalty-kill percentage and 18th with a 17.6 power-play percentage. The Blackhawks have killed 28 of their last 30 penalties and have scored a power-play goal in two of their last 27 opportunities. The Wild are third with an 87.4 penalty-kill percentage and tied for 26th with a 13.0 power-play percentage

Stress-free Raanta steps up for Blackhawks

December, 14, 2014
12/14/14
11:00
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Antti Raanta arrived to the United Center with a fresh mind on Sunday.

Raanta had been allowing himself to get caught up in the Chicago Blackhawks' goaltending situation. Scott Darling had started in net the previous four games prior to Sunday, and Raanta naturally began to worry what it would mean for him when Corey Crawford returns from his injury in the near future. The Blackhawks will eventually send either Darling or Raanta down to the AHL.

[+] EnlargeRaanta
Bill Smith/Getty ImagesAntti Raanta made 23 saves Sunday night, including all five of the Flames' power-play shots.
Raanta pushed all those thoughts aside Sunday before starting his first game since Dec. 5. Focused on the task at hand and feeling loose, Raanta went out and made 23 saves and helped the Blackhawks to a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

"I was feeling really good," Raanta said. "I was relaxed. I don't want to take that kind of pressure if I lose the game or if I let in two goals or three goals, that’s it, game over. I just tried to come to the rink, I was like, 'We're going to play. I'm going to do my best. And we'll see after the game what's the results.'"

The results fell in Raanta's favor against the Flames. With the Blackhawks coming off the second game of a back-to-back, they weren't exactly flying early against the Flames, and Raanta protected the net. He stopped all nine shots he saw in the first period, nine of 10 in the second period and all five in the third period. He denied all five of the Flames' power-play shots.

Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg was impressed by Raanta.

"He hadn't played since [Dec. 5]," Versteeg said. "This is a heck of a challenge for him tonight on a back-to-back. He kept us in there in the start."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville also praised Raanta.

"I thought he was very good," Quenneville said. "He did a very good job, excellent."

With the win, the Blackhawks improved to 6-1-0 since Crawford injured himself at a concert on Dec. 1. Raanta is 3-0-0 and has 101 saves on 106 shots for a .953 save percentage during that stretch, and Darling is 3-1-0 and has 124 saves on 132 shots for a .939 save percentage.

Quenneville hasn't tipped his hand regarding which goaltender he prefers yet, but he said Sunday he's liked how both have responded to the competition.

"I think it's healthy," Quenneville said. "I think competition is not a bad thing. Organizationally, you got to commend all of our goaltenders pushing each other in the right way. They want to play. They take advantage of the opportunity when they get in there. They've done exactly what you hope for them to do."

Raanta has especially been mindful of making the competition friendly and still being a good teammate even if that's not how he's always feeling.

"Of course, this is all the time like fighting for those games, but I think me and Scotty are pretty much the same kind of guys that we just try to do our best and that's it," Raanta said. "If you start thinking too much, then it's like if Scotty plays a great game and he gets the win, then that's it. You still have to be like a good teammate. You can't start doing anything stupid because you only hurt yourself.

"Just come here every morning, even though sometimes you can feel a little frustrated and be pretty sad about the situation, it's just hockey. Just come here with a smile on your face and enjoy the moment."

That plan worked out just fine Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 2, Flames 1

December, 14, 2014
12/14/14
9:51
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames at the United Center on Sunday:

How it happened: Brandon Saad scored the game-winning goal and broke a 1-1 tie off an odd-man rush at 12:57 of the second period. Jiri Hudler put the Flames ahead 1-0 when he scored from the deep slot off a pass from a Johnny Gaudreau at 4:27 of the second period. The Blackhawks answered with a power-play goal from Patrick Sharp later in the period. Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta made 23 saves on 24 shots. Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped 26 of 28 shots. The Blackhawks were 1-for-3 on the power play and the Flames were 0-for-3.

What it means: The Blackhawks extended their home winning streak to six games. They improved to 21-9-1 on the season and overtook the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Central Division. The Flames dropped their fifth game in a row. The Blackhawks got contributions for both sides of their special teams. It was the Blackhawks' first power-play goal in five games. They have allowed just two power-play goals in the past 11 games. Chicago also continued its third-period success.

Player of the game: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had the primary assist on both goals.

Stat of the game: The Blackhawks won 30 of 49 faceoffs.

What's next: The Blackhawks remain home and play the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. It's their first of five games this season.

Hawks fall despite Corey Crawford's exceptional effort

November, 24, 2014
11/24/14
12:59
AM CT
By Ryan Dittrick
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Chicago Blackhawks looked very much like a team on the second half of a back-to-back set Sunday night.

Disjointed, chaotic, on and on.

[+] EnlargeCrawford
Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports"Game in, game out, he's giving us a chance," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of his netminder. "We didn't give him the result he deserved."
For everyone but Corey Crawford, that is.

Fortunate to be tied after 40 minutes of play, the well ran dry -- a sputtering offense failed to produce when, on the flip side, Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen was busy putting the finishing touches on his first career hat trick in a 4-1 final.

"We didn't have much of anything going tonight," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "Vancouver had way more pace, way more energy and puck support.

"We were lucky to be in the game."

Making his 11th straight start, Crawford was exceptional -- an elite performance from one of the NHL's best, preventing an otherwise lopsided game from getting out of hand.

"He was amazing. Absolutely amazing," Kris Versteeg, who scored the Hawks’ lone goal, said postgame. “Crow's been great all year, but he was something special tonight, no question. If it wasn't for him, we're probably looking at a different result on the scoreboard. He kept us in it and gave us a chance, which is all you can ever ask from your goaltender … but when we make the kind of saves he was making tonight, it's such a boost. It's a shame we didn't get the result for him tonight."

Among his 26 saves, Crawford’s best will make the highlight reels coast-to-coast for the days, weeks and months ahead -- sure goals thwarted by fine displays of athleticism.

Radim Vrbata, whose deflected shot from the high slot was emphatically picked off by the netminder's glove, was the first to bear witness. Then, in a tie game late in the second period, Crawford had a little magic left in tow, lunging across and extending every inch of his 6-foot-2 frame to negate Henrik Sedin's one-touch offering with the tip of his skate blade.

Crawford came into the night with a 1.90 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage -- elite numbers, indeed.

"He's been excellent. Consistent. Game in, game out, he's giving us a chance," Quenneville said. "We didn't give him the result he deserved."

The Blackhawks were outshot 30-25, but the discrepancy in quality scoring chances was far greater.

The Hawks got on the board at 7:55 of the second period, scoring just 12 seconds into a power-play opportunity.

"On back-to-back nights, you try to play a simple game,” Versteeg said of the team’s lack of execution. "We held ourselves in it for a while … They have some good players over there that can make some great plays, and that's exactly what they did. It was a pace we're generally comfortable with, but whether it was fatigue or something else at play, we couldn't keep up. Tied going into the third period, you've got to be happy with the position you're in. Then we gave up the first one, the next one. Before you know it, we're down by a bunch. We're better than that, and we'll show it.”

Added Hawks forward Patrick Kane: "We have a lot more to give. Tonight wasn't good enough."

Alongside Kane and Brad Richards, Versteeg now has three goals and seven points in his past four games. The winger was one of the Hawks' better forwards tonight, playing nearly 19 minutes and coming to the aid of Kane after No. 88 was drilled with a questionable hit from behind by Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa late in the opening 20.

Beyond that, the emotion, and the myriad "wow" moments from their all-star netminder, the Blackhawks just couldn't get anything going offensively. The 50-foot neutral zone may as well have been a chasm, entrenched -- appropriately, along the shores of the Pacific Ocean here in Vancouver -- by a sea of blue sweaters.

"Even if we're not dictating the pace of the game, we've got to make sure we're making things more difficult on them to create offense," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We made mistakes all over the place and it cost us. We've had a good trip, 'til tonight. It will be good to get some rest before we get back at it on Wednesday in Denver."

Rapid Reaction: Canucks 4, Hawks 1

November, 23, 2014
11/23/14
11:36
PM CT
By Ryan Dittrick
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night at Rogers Arena.

How it happened: Jannik Hansen's first career hat trick provided the bulk of the offense in a lopsided game from start to finish. The Canucks, who controlled the pace for much of the evening, drew first blood at 13:13 of the opening period as Hansen capitalized on a bit of a broken play in the slot, slapping a shot past Corey Crawford after eluding checks in the slot. While the Hawks' power-play struggled mightily on the night, it did engineer the equalizer just shy of the 8-minute mark of the second. The red-hot Kris Versteeg connected with a Duncan Keith point blast, redirecting a shot past Ryan Miller just 12 seconds into their third advantage of the night. But the Canucks took over from that point forward, scoring three times in the final frame -- Hansen at 6:24, Radim Vrbata at 17:36 and Hansen again at 19:17, an empty-netter -- sealing victory on a night when the Blackhawks just couldn't get anything going offensively.

What it means: The Hawks suffer their first loss of the circus trip after stringing together a pair of wins off the top. Chicago is now 12-8-1 on the year, third in the Central, and four points back of the division-leading St. Louis Blues.

Player of the game: With the help of an empty-netter, Hansen's hat trick performance lifted the Canucks to victory, but getting there was no easy task. Simply put, Crawford was incredible. Making his 11th straight start, the veteran made 26 saves on the night, many of them miraculous, and was the difference in a game that could have easily gotten out of hand. A pair of world-class stops highlighted the night -- the first coming hot off the stick of Vrbata, who redirected a point shot into the webbing of the goalie’s trapper, while the second, a cross-crease one-time shot by Henrik Sedin, was literally stopped by the width of a skate blade. Crawford lunged across to meet the offering foot-first, stretching his heel to deny the opportunity.

Stat of the game: Versteeg extended his point streak to three, tallying the Hawks' lone goal in the defeat. Alongside Patrick Kane and Brad Richards, the winger now has three goals and seven points in his past three games.

What’s next: The circus trip enters the back half as the Hawks travel back to the States to take on the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday before wrapping up their season-long, six-game excursion with a back-to-back set versus the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 5, Sharks 2

November, 9, 2014
11/09/14
9:19
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at the United Center:
How it happened: The Blackhawks put themselves in a comfortable position by scoring the game’s first three goals. Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk tallied his first career NHL goal. That was followed by goals by defensemen Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, which put the Blackhawks up 3-0 in the first period. Sharks forward Joe Pavelski trimmed that lead to one by scoring at the net in the first period and on a power play in the second period. The Sharks were pushing for the game-tying goal until Bryan Bickell scored with 4:42 remaining in the game to put the Hawks ahead 4-2. Jonathan Toews added an empty-net goal for the Blackhawks. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made 32 saves on 36 shots. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 32 of 34 shots.

What it means: The Blackhawks snapped a three-game home losing streak. The Blackhawks looked like they were traveling down the same path as their latest game. They built a 2-0 lead on the Washington Capitals on Friday and lost 3-2 at home. The Blackhawks prevented that Sunday. They especially stepped up in the third period. The Blackhawks were due for the four even-strength goals they scored. They came into the game with a 5.0 shooting percentage in 5-on-5 situations. The Blackhawks improved to 8-6-1 on the season. The Sharks, who were coming off a win Saturday over the Dallas Stars, dropped to 8-6-2. Crawford held an opponent to two goals or fewer for the seventh time this season.

Player of the game: Van Riemsdyk scored his first career NHL goal and was also promoted to the Blackhawks’ top pairing with Duncan Keith.

Stat of the game: The Blackhawks scored three goals within a 2:34 stretch of the first period.

What’s next: The Blackhawks continue their three-game home stand with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

Patrick Kane reaches 500-point milestone

October, 26, 2014
10/26/14
10:53
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane knew he was coming up on 500 career points, but he forgot all about the milestone when he actually recorded it Sunday.

Kane got caught up in the moment, with Jonathan Toews scoring a goal to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead against the Ottawa Senators in the second period. Kane celebrated the goal on the ice, and it wasn't until he reached the bench that he realized what he had done individually by contributing an assist on the goal.

"It's something after Toewser scored you're not even thinking about, and the coaches are congratulating you on the bench," Kane said. "It's something that kind of sticks in your head. It's been a great run in Chicago for the time I've been here.
[+] EnlargeChicago Blackhawks
Bill Smith/Getty ImagesTeammates Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith were ready to greet Kane in celebration after his second-period assist.

"It's just a number, to be honest with you. Hopefully, there's many more to come. It's a pretty cool milestone when you say 500 like that. Yeah, it's cool. You remember this one for sure."

Kane became the 14th player to record 500 points with the Blackhawks. He reached the mark in 523 career games. He has 181 goals and 319 assists. Stan Mikita is the franchise leader with 1,467 points with the Blackhawks.

Marian Hossa could be the next Blackhawk to reach a milestone. He's two points from 1,000 career points. Kane was looking forward to that one.

"I think a couple games, or next game, we'll get an even better milestone when big Hoss reaches 1,000," Kane said. "That'll be exciting, too."

Scott Darling has unforgettable NHL debut

October, 26, 2014
10/26/14
10:27
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Lauren Darling couldn’t contain her emotions as she tried to express what it was like to watch her younger brother, Scott Darling, make his NHL debut for their hometown team, the Chicago Blackhawks, on Sunday.

"I can't even explain it," Lauren said after the game as she laughed and cried simultaneously. "There are no words. I can't explain it."

Darling's NHL debut was full of emotion for him and his family for an assortment of reasons.

First off, it was his first NHL game. Secondly, he also grew up a huge Blackhawks fan in Lemont, Illinois, which is about 25 miles from the United Center. He had about 30 friends and family members in the crowd.

Thirdly, he endured plenty of ups and downs on his way to the NHL. He was in the Southern Professional Hockey League not too long ago. The Blackhawks are his 10th team since 2010.

"It's 20 years of work coming into this one game," the 25-year-old said.

Sunday wasn't just about making the NHL, though. Darling showed he just might have what it takes to stick in the NHL. The 6-foot-6 Darling allowed the Ottawa Senators little room to get the puck past him, and he denied 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 win for the Blackhawks.

"That felt pretty good," said Darling, who was treated to a final ovation from 21,000-plus fans when he was named the game’s No. 1 star. "I'm pretty excited right now. The guys played great [and] helped me out a lot. I can't thank the guys enough for the great effort. I'm just happy it turned out the way it did."
[+] EnlargeScott Darling
AP Photo/Paul BeatyScott Darling's debut in the net featured 32 saves and only one allowed goal.

Darling’s hardest part of the day was getting through the afternoon and dealing with the anticipation of the game. Then, he had to deal with the emotions of leading the Blackhawks out of the tunnel and being on the ice as the fans cheered throughout the national anthem.

When it came to the game, he was actually able to suppress his feelings and find a comfort level early, as the Senators tested him with 10 shots on goal in the opening 10 minutes.

"Once you get hit with a few pucks, it's just another hockey game," Darling said. "You just try to do your job."

The Blackhawks slowed the Senators down in the second period, but the Senators got aggressive in the third period as they fought to tie the game. Darling then came up again and thwarted all 16 of the Senators' shots in the third period.

Darling’s mom, Cindy, might as well have been stopping the shots herself. With the game so close from start to finish, she never once relaxed during the 60 minutes.

"I was nervous all game," Cindy said. "I just wanted him and the team to do well."

Also for Cindy, Sunday was about a lot more than just one game. It was about her son striving for something since he was 5 years old.

"It was amazing," Cindy said. "I'm very proud of my son. And his sisters supported him a lot all those road trips. [Lauren] played hockey, and the other one speedskated for a little bit, so we were always at ice rinks. Always tried to encourage kids and follow their dreams."

Darling could have used someone to pinch him to let him know he wasn't dreaming as he sat in the Blackhawks' dressing room postgame.

"It doesn't seem real yet," he said. "It hasn't really set in. [I'm] proud to be here, proud to be a Blackhawk and happy. I'll never forget this day."

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 2, Senators 1

October, 26, 2014
10/26/14
8:55
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday at the United Center:


How it happened: The Blackhawks put an end to their season-long second-period woes on their way to victory Sunday. The Blackhawks hadn’t scored a second-period goal in their first seven games. They scored two of them against the Senators. Jonathan Toews provided the first with a wraparound goal in a four-on-four situation 21 seconds into the second period. Brent Seabrook gave the Blackhawks a second when he scored on a power play at 13:38. Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling did the rest in his NHL debut: He stopped 32 of 33 shots. The Senators' lone goal came on a freak play on which the linesman interfered with a Blackhawks pass and led to a short-handed goal by Milan Michalek in the second period. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson stopped 43 of 45 shots.

What it means: The Blackhawks snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 5-2-1 on the season. The Blackhawks' five-on-five play again wasn't great, but they got the job done in other areas. The Blackhawks have scored a power-play goal in six of their eight games. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane recorded his 500th career point with an assist on Seabrook's goal. The Blackhawks killed all three of the Senators' power plays.

Player of the game: Darling, who is from the Chicago area, had a game to remember in his debut. He came up especially big with the Senators pushing for a goal to even the game in the third period. He made 16 saves in the third period.

Stat of the game: Fourteen penalties were called in the game.

What's next: The Blackhawks remain home and face the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

W2W4: Flyers at Blackhawks

October, 21, 2014
10/21/14
12:53
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Here’s what to watch for when the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks play at the United Center on Tuesday:

• The Blackhawks will be without No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford due to an upper-body injury. Antti Raanta will make his season debut. Raanta learned he would start on Tuesday morning. He was 13-5-4 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .897 save percentage as a rookie during the 2013-14 season.

• Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg will also make his season debut Tuesday after missing four games with a lower-body injury.

• The Blackhawks are riding a four-game points streak with a 3-0-1 record to start the season. They have been pleased with their record and their shot quantity -- they’re averaging a league-best 40 shots on goal per game -- but haven’t been happy with their goal quantity. They have scored 11 goals, with six of those coming in one game. Their 11 goals have been divided between six at even strength, three on the power play and two shorthanded.

• The Flyers arrive in Chicago with a 1-2-2 record and are coming off a 6-5 overtime win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds each have seven points for the Flyers. Simmonds is tied for second in the league with five goals. Goaltender Steve Mason will start in net. He is 0-2-1 with a 3.78 goals-against average and .865 save percentage this season.

• Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has switched up his lines in hope of getting more offense. His first three lines will be Patrick SharpJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa, Versteeg – Andrew ShawPatrick Kane and Bryan BickellBrad RichardsBrandon Saad. The fourth line will include Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith, but Quenneville wouldn’t say whether Daniel Carcillo or Jeremy Morin would also be on that line. The Blackhawks’ defenseman pairings are expected to be Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook, Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van RiemsdykMichal Rozsival.

• The Blackhawks’ focus will be on improving their power play. They were 0-for-5 on the advantage Saturday and are 3-for-21 for the season.

“You could talk about every area the other night and say it has to be better,” Quenneville said. “Faceoffs, retrievals, shot selection, lack of shots, entries, every area. We have to be better across the board. We can’t be happy with the last game.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
64 27 37 10
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 27
AssistsP. Kane 37
+/-J. Toews 21
GAAC. Crawford 2.30