Daily Herald - Suburban Chicago's source for news This copy is for personal, non-commercial use. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution you can: 1) Use the "Reprint" button found on the top and bottom of every article, 2) Visit reprints.theygsgroup.com/dailyherald.asp for samples and additional information or 3) Order a reprint of this article now.
Article updated: 4/24/2013 11:50 PM

Hawks claim Presidents' Trophy

By Tim Sassone

The Blackhawks completed one last piece of business Wednesday night by winning their second Presidents' Trophy.

The Hawks, who last finished with the most points in the NHL in 1990-91, accomplished their mission by beating Edmonton 4-1 at Rexall Place.

"The start of our year really put us in a great spot," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters. "It's been a great regular season. I just think the consistency is something that put us in the right place. Whether it was our goaltending, the improvement of our defense or the four-line rotation, everybody had a hand in it and everybody contributed.

"But I don't think we want to get too excited because we've still got some serious work to do."

Ray Emery started in goal for the Hawks but didn't make it out of the first period. He left with 6:11 left in the period after appearing to tweak the lower body injury that has had him sidelined.

When Emery left, the Hawks were leading 2-1 on goals by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Rookie center Drew LeBlanc made his NHL debut after skating with the Hawks for the past two weeks and got better as the game progressed.

LeBlanc started the game centering the second line for Kane and Patrick Sharp, who was back in the lineup after a lengthy absence.

LeBlanc, the Hobey Baker winner form St. Cloud State, admitted a case of nerves prior to the game.

"Lot of nerves, lot of excitement," LeBlanc told Blackhawks TV. "I didn't really expect to get in there because they have such a good team and I don't think there's any reason to switch anything right now. They've been rolling all year.

"I'm just trying not to screw up too much," said LeBlanc, who is not eligible for the playoffs because he signed after the trade deadline.

With Dave Bolland missing the game with a lower body injury, Quenneville felt it was a good opportunity to see what LeBlanc could do.

"It's a great chance to get him to play," Quenneville said. "He's been with us now a little bit here and had some practices. We told him to play with confidence and play his game, keep it simple and just trust your instincts."

In LeBlanc's second shift of the game he lost Nail Yakupov in front for the tying goal at 4:50.

Toews had given the Hawks a 1-0 lead at 3:58 with his 22nd goal assisted by Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa.

Kane put the Hawks back ahead with his 22nd goal when Michal Handzus sprung him on a breakaway with a quick pass.

The Oilers had only 2 shots on Corey Crawford in the second period. One was by Jordan Eberle all alone in front, but Crawford robbed him with a sensational glove save.

The third period was all Hawks as well with Johnny Oduya and Sharp scoring.

Keith aftermath:

Duncan Keith was surrounded by the media in Edmonton on Wednesday, but nobody wanted to talk hockey. Everyone wanted to ask about Monday's postgame confrontation with Vancouver female reporter Karen Thomson.

"I think over the years people who have dealt with me know that I respect the reporters and respect everybody's job and what they do," Keith said. "Sometimes, especially after a loss, I think I can be fired up. I don't like to lose and I get frustrated. I was frustrated from losing. To me, that's all it was."

Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.