Bedard’s big night lifts Hawks

Connor Bedard scored his 20th goal of the season and added 4 assists to produce a career-high 5 points as the Blackhawks annihilated Anaheim 7-2 Tuesday at United Center.

The Hawks (18-43-5) have won two straight for just the second time all season and also have 14 goals in the last two games. That's their highest two-game total since opening the 2017-18 campaign with 10-1 and 5-1 wins over Pittsburgh and Columbus.

Also filling up the scoresheet were Philipp Kurashev (2G, 2A), Nick Foligno (4 assists) and Andreas Athanasiou (2 assists), who returned after a fourth-month absence.

Bedard's milestone goal came on a wicked one-timer at 19:31 of the second period. It gave the Hawks a 4-2 lead. They completed the rout with third-period tallies from MacKenzie Entwistle, Kurashev and Tyler Johnson.

“Obviously scoring goals is nice (and to hit) those round numbers,” Bedard said when asked if the 20-goal plateau meant anything. “It's not something I really thought about too much. But, yeah, I guess it's good.”

The game featured an all-out brawl early in the third period. One highlight was Hawks goalie Petr Mrazek jumping Anaheim's Radko Gudas as Gudas pounded away at Entwistle. That prompted Ducks goalie John Gibson to sprint across the ice to confront Mrazek. Gibson was given a game misconduct and ejected.

“Oh, I loved it. I wish I was out there,” Foligno said. “Those are my favorite things sometimes. Every guy for themselves and every guy for each other. I'm so proud of our guys the way they stood up for each other.

“That's a team that's obviously frustrated on the other side and we handled ourselves really well. I loved seeing Petey in there. He's an ultimate team guy and he loves mixing it up.

“He definitely does it with his mouth, so it was good to see him jumping in with his fist.”

As for Athanasiou, he wasted no time making an impact, assisting on Ryan Donato's power-play goal at 11:27 of the first period. He also fired 5 shots (2 on goal) in the opening 20 minutes and drew a penalty with 4:01 remaining in the second period.

“Loved his start,” coach Luke Richardson said. “His speed and his dynamic with the puck was great. … And he was not just skating forward, he was tracking back hard. Guys were really happy, cheering for him on the bench. So it was great to have him back.”

After managing just 1 goal and 15 assists in his first 42 games, Jones has 3 goals and 6 assists in his last nine.

Slaggert arrives

The young talent sitting in the Blackhawks' pipeline is by most accounts quite impressive. In the coming years those players will trickle in and, theoretically, lead the franchise to many deep playoff runs.

Landon Slaggert, who signed a two-year contract Sunday and participated in Tuesday's morning skate at the United Center, is hoping to be one of those big-time contributors.

“This is a day that you dream of as a little kid,” Slaggert said. “Obviously it's awesome to have it come true in a place like Chicago in an organization as historic as the Blackhawks. … Playing mini-sticks in the basement, I was wearing the Hawks jerseys and it's awesome to be wearing one today.”

Of course, we should point out here that Slaggert was actually a Red Wings fan as a kid. He switched allegiances while playing for the Chicago Mission.

“A lot of friends were Blackhawks fans,” Slagger said. “It was pretty easy for me to jump on the wagon.”

Slaggert just completed his senior season at Notre Dame, scoring 20 goals in 36 games. That followed a junior year in which he scored just seven times.

Slaggert, who compared himself to long-time NHLer Zach Parise, said it was necessary for him to go through such a trying campaign so he could grow into a more complete player.

Many of his tallies this season came because he was willing to do the dirty work in front of the net.

“Found a way to put some more home,” Slaggert said. “Have poise in those high-pressure areas. I definitely took some strides in that area. …

“Obviously the goalies are a lot bigger in the NHL, but the pucks are still sitting there in the crease just waiting for someone to bang them home. So hopefully that can be me.”

Coach Luke Richardson expects Slaggert to make his debut Friday when the Hawks host the LA Kings.

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