Blackhawks snap losing streak and power play drought

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Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews, left, scores against Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Elliott during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

by Scott King

Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville erupted during the team’s post-practice huddle on Tuesday.

Quenneville has been known to voice frustration with on-ice officials in that fashion, but never players and never at practice.

He made it clear he was displeased with the team’s lack of intensity and that it would no longer be tolerated.

The players had an opportunity to collectively respond to their coach’s disapproval and improve upon their 5-5-2 record Wednesday night at the United Center vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Hawks had dropped five of their last six games and three straight prior to Wednesday’s tilt.

The Blackhawks did a better job of controlling the puck in the first period and generated a few quality chances. Late in the first, Hawks defenseman Connor Murphy leveled Flyers forward Taylor Leier sparking a brawl between Murphy and Scott Laughton.

Near the halfway point of the second period the Hawks’ power play drought finally ended. After going scoreless on their last 18 power plays, Artem Anisimov buried a Cody Franson rebound. Anisimov has a goal in his last three games.

Tuesday, Franson thought he could be effective on the power play. “I’ve always been on the power play,” the 30-year-old blue liner said. “Whether it’s the first or second unit. From juniors all the way up, it’s something I’ve tried to take pride in and been able to be somewhat successful at it.

“I’m surrounded by a bunch of skill and I’m just going to try and be that shot threat, keep guys honest and give our skill guys as much space as I possibly can and if they don’t honor the shot, I’ll take the shot.”

Quenneville liked what he saw of Franson on the power play. “He’s been good,” Quenneville said. “He’s got a great shot, great release, gets it through. His quickness, up at pretty amazing. He still has other plays as well as the shot, the shot lane. But he’s been good for the power play.”

Soon after, Jonathan Toews scored on a breakaway to make it 2-0 Hawks. It was his fourth goal of the season. “I had one a few games ago and just tried to play it safe this time,” the captain said. “I Just figured try to come in with speed and make a move, and try to get him to bite. It was a nice bounce to see the defenseman fumble the puck.”

With 1:49 remaining in regulation Alex DeBrincat scored on an empty Flyers’ net to make the final score 3-0.

Even more impressive than the Hawks putting up three goals to snap a losing streak and get back on the right track with the power play was Corey Crawford making 35 saves and shutting out Philadelphia. It was his first shutout of the season and the 22nd of his career.

“Yeah, that’s nice,” Crawford said of the individual achievement. “But winning is the most important thing. It does feel good, but we’ll just have to build off that I think. We’ve been playing well, had some tough losses in those games. It’s nice to get one [win].”

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