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Blackhawks defensemen assisting on offense

Defenseman Steve Montador had an assist Hawks’ 6-2 victory Wednesday against Sabres. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Defenseman Steve Montador had an assist in the Hawks’ 6-2 victory Wednesday against the Sabres. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 21, 2012 8:34AM



It’s puzzling, really.

The Blackhawks are one of the highest-scoring teams in the league, but going into the game Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres, their defensemen have combined for the fewest goals and points in the Central Division.

The Hawks’ blue-liners didn’t score against Buffalo, but at least they showed they’re capable of starting the offensive attack when their shots get through and teammates convert.

Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook had two assists, and Steve Montador, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy each had one in the Hawks’ 6-2 victory.

“Our offense is helped by our defense getting involved in the play and off the point, both [Leddy] and [Keith] and the whole group, for that matter,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Maybe we’re not scoring at the rate that we’d like, but at least they’re giving us some offense on the back end, which is noticeable in our game.”

The biggest thing is that the power play was in a lull with only four goals in the last 38 advantages before Wednesday. In the first period against the Sabres, the Hawks had one power-play goal and another goal four seconds after their first advantage expired.

Getting point shots through were the key part on both of them. Keith’s turned into a rebound goal for Andrew Shaw, and minutes later, Seabrook’s shot bounced off the post to Jonathan Toews for a power-play score. Keith later sprang Marian Hossa for his breakaway goal in the second period.

“As a team, I still think we’re getting scoring, and you’re not really concerned about who is really producing for you,” Quenneville said. “I think over time, you get stretches with the ‘D’ where it’s going in from the point. I just think a lot of times you get those kinds of points on the power play, and our power play hasn’t been as hot as it was.”

So close for Shaw

In the last minute of the second period, Shaw nearly made another highlight-reel play in his short, productive run with the Hawks. He grabbed a fluttering puck, dropped it and tipped it with his stick in close on Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth, setting up what appeared to be a goal by Marcus Kruger.

The on-ice official ruled it wasn’t a good goal.

It also couldn’t be reviewed because the official whistled the play dead, thinking it was a hand pass by Shaw.

The full Monty

Montador was moved to the first power-play unit with Patrick Sharp out of the lineup with a fractured wrist.

“With [Sharp] gone, you want a right shot over there,” Montador said.



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