Chicago Blackhawks get back to winning
After blowing a 5-2 first-period lead to St. Louis and coming out like dead men walking in New Jersey last week, Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks needed a big bounce-back effort Sunday night at the United Center.
Crawford did his part -- as did Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin -- and the Hawks defeated the never-say-die Edmonton Oilers 4-2 to improve to 8-6-1 overall, 7-1-1 at home.
"That was a big win for us," Crawford said. "We were frustrated the last two games and this one was good for us. We have to get on a roll here."
Crawford, staked to a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of first-period goals by Panarin, stood tall by making 34 saves, including an astounding 22 in the second period when Oiler after Oiler charged in on breakaway after breakaway.
Crawford allowed 9 goals in those losses to the Blues and Devils, registering just a .786 save percentage in the process.
"I kind of struggled in the last couple games," said Crawford, who was pulled after one period in New Jersey. "I wanted to come back strong, especially when your coach gives you the net again. You want to prove him right, do well for him."
Kane also had a huge night and continues to amaze at almost every turn. He extended his points streak to 10 games with 3 assists and a goal at 13:28 of the third period to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead. He's tied with Dallas' Tyler Seguin for the league lead in points (23) and is on a 126-point pace for the season.
"I thought he had an amazing start to the whole year last year until he got hurt (in February)," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He was arguably an MVP over that stretch of time. This year he's taken off to almost a different level."
The Oilers made it interesting when Andrej Sekera scored with 1:51 left to make it 3-2, but Artem Anisimov closed out the scoring on a power-play goal with five seconds remaining.
Panarin ended up having a 3-point night to give him 15 in his first 15 NHL games.
After missing three games with a lower-body injury, Marian Hossa was back on the ice Sunday during the Hawks' 4-2 win. The right winger was happy he wasn't rushed back.
"Yeah, you don't want to damage (things) early (in the) season," Hossa said. "So you'd rather take a few days to get better, where you need to be, and let the body settle down, when you feel like you can go again. I think it was a smart decision."
Odd men out?
When Duncan Keith and Michal Rozsival return from injury, the Hawks will have some decisions to make on the back end.
"You can't have nine defensemen around here, so something's got to shake," coach Joel Quenneville said.
Two players likely would be reassigned to Rockford with the top candidates being Viktor Svedberg, David Rundblad and Erik Gustafsson. Rundblad would have to clear waivers.
Of the three, Gustafsson, signed in the off-season on a free-agent deal, might have the best chance to stick around. He has 2 assists in five games and has impressed the coaching staff.
"He's played some games here where all of a sudden it looks like he could be OK," Quenneville said. "Like the way he moves the puck."
Ryan Garbutt (illness) did not play Sunday. … Jonathan Toews has won 73 of 109 faceoffs (67 percent) in the last four games.
He said it:
"I'll take that. It's better than zero percent."
Jonathan Toews, being told he finally won his first fight in the NHL. Toews got into it with New Jersey's Adam Henrique during the Hawks' 4-2 loss Friday.