Cam Tucker

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 15: Scott Darling #33 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes the third period save against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 15, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Blackhawks defeated the Islanders 5-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Blackhawks got another solid performance from Scott Darling to extend winning streak


In recent times without Corey Crawford, the Chicago Blackhawks have leaned heavily on Scott Darling.

It appears Crawford is nearing a return to the lineup after missing the last few weeks following an appendectomy. That’s good news for the Blackhawks. But with Crawford out, Darling has been solid, if not impressive in that time and he proved that again Sunday.

Starting for the second time in as many days, after playing the night before against the St. Louis Blues? No problem, apparently.

Darling made 33 saves and the Blackhawks ended San Jose’s winning streak at four games with a 4-1 victory. That’s five wins in a row for Chicago.

“We talked about it. It was a good discussion,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of playing Darling in back-to-backs. “At the end of it, he came back with another win so we didn’t want to change the pattern.”

Once again, the Blackhawks rallied after falling behind.

Once again, it was another big third period that helped them to victory.

Duncan Keith finally scored his first of the season, tying the game in the second period. Chicago then scored three times in the third period, with goals from Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza and Patrick Kane.

Game over.

Not only did the Sharks lose the game, but forward Melker Karlsson left in the third period and didn’t return after colliding with a Chicago player near the corner.

Video: Duncan Keith (finally!) scores his first goal of the season

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The point production had been there.

The goal production? Well, that was another story for Duncan Keith, who had yet to score a goal this season heading into Sunday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

He had 21 assists in 33 games. But no goals. That changed Sunday, as he ripped a shot from the point, beating Martin Jones.

That was a big goal, too, for the Blackhawks. It tied the game late in the second period — a period in which the Blackhawks conceded 15 shots on Scott Darling.

Are the Jets a playoff team? Patrik Laine seems to think so

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 13: Patrik Laine #29, playing his first NHL game, of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates scoring his first NHL goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during NHL action on October 22, 2016 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At top is Mathieu Perreault #85 of the Winnipeg Jets. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)

A week ago, Patrik Laine sat on the bench, dejected.

He had just scored into his own net by accident, a costly mistake that was a defining moment in a team loss versus Edmonton. Even Wayne Gretzky weighed in on what happened to the talented rookie forward.

On Sunday, however, Laine was back to his usual, confident self. He recorded three points, including his 18th goal of the season, as the Winnipeg Jets rolled over the floundering Colorado Avalanche by a final score of 4-1.

That win pushes the Jets to within a point of the final Wild Card spot in the West.

It’s the middle of December, the holiday break is approaching.

The Jets are in a spot where they can challenge for a post-season berth. Perhaps the prospect of finishing in the top three in the Central Division is too daunting. Chicago and St. Louis occupy two of the top three spots in that division, and Minnesota — with seven straight wins — could certainly challenge for the Central by the time this season is over.

But a Wild Card spot? The Jets are middle of the pack when it comes to scoring, and in the bottom third of the league in goals against, but the notion at least seems possible, especially since teams ahead of them like Calgary and L.A. aren’t exactly lighting up the league right now.

“I think we’ve shown we can beat teams like Chicago, St. Louis in their home building. That tells something about our team,” said Laine.

“I think we have a really good team and we just have to play our own game every night, and I think we can and we will be a playoff team.”

There are other teams, like the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators, that might have something to say about it.

Blue Jackets extend winning streak as Torts earns career win No. 500

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets watches a replay during a break in action against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Blue Jackets 2-1 in a shoot out. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Make that nine straight wins for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Make that career win No. 500 for head coach John Tortorella.

The Blue Jackets continued their recent run as the league’s hottest team with a 4-3 overtime victory on Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks — the same team Tortorella coached for one tumultuous and ultimately disappointing season.

Per the NHL, Tortorella is the first American-born coach to reach the milestone.

Seth Jones scored the winner in the three-on-three session, as the Blue Jackets were able to regroup following a difficult third period on the road.

The Canucks have shown a penchant for wild and unpredictable third periods this season. They’ve come back to earn wins, and they’ve collapsed in epic fashion to lose points, as well.

This time, they managed to score three times in the final period of regulation, gaining at least a point.

The Blue Jackets, the surprise turnaround team in the league so far this season, are one point back of the Rangers (in action tonight versus New Jersey) and the Penguins for the lead in the Metropolitan Division.

But there is no doubt this is a big win for Tortorella, as well. He’s a polarizing figure in the hockey world.

His time in Vancouver generated headlines on a constant basis, in what can be considered only as a spectacular failure, despite what was actually a strong start for the team under his guidance.

The timing of Tortorella’s visit back to Vancouver comes not only with his own team on a roll, but with the Canucks struggling and their current coach, Willie Desjardins, on the hot seat.

He’s been there for some time.

Crawford (appendectomy) is nearing a return to Blackhawks crease

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 28:  Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 28, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Good news for the Chicago Blackhawks, as goalie Corey Crawford is approaching a return to game action.

Crawford had an appendectomy earlier this month, forcing him out of the lineup. He has missed the last eight games as a result.

According to reports on Sunday, Crawford could start on Friday against the Colorado Avalanche — the final game for the Blackhawks before the holiday break.

From the Chicago Tribune:

That would mean Crawford would return in the two-to-three week timetable doctors game him for returning to play after the procedure. Crawford skated in Chicago while the Hawks were on their recent three-game trip. He also skated Sunday and will skate Monday when the rest of the team is off.

In Crawford’s absence, Scott Darling has been busy in net, starting every game since Crawford underwent his procedure.

He had a nice run through the middle of this stretch, allowing a total of three goals in four games. But he has since allowed four goals in each of his last two starts — both wins.

Heading into Sunday’s game against San Jose, the Blackhawks had managed to win five of their last six games. Chicago had also appeared to be getting healthier, with the return of Jonathan Toews.

However, forward Artem Anisimov is now listed as day-to-day after suffering an injury in Saturday’s game versus St. Louis.