Blackhawks’ Andreas Athanasiou moves back into spotlight with big performance Friday

After a recent quiet stretch, Athanasiou erupted for three points and led the Hawks’ comeback Friday, offering a reminder he could also bring back value at the trade deadline.

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Andreas Athanasiou celebrates a goal Friday.

Andreas Athanasiou produced three points in the Blackhawks’ win Friday.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Andreas Athanasiou produced a game to remember Friday.

In the Hawks’ 4-3 overtime win over the Coyotes, he tied a career high with three points, fell one short of a career high with 12 shot attempts and tied a career high with eight shots on goal. At five-on-five specifically, his shot-attempt ratio exceeded 63% for the second consecutive game.

Even beyond the box score, he was unquestionably the man who led the Hawks’ comeback in the first half of their weekend back-to-back, which continued Saturday at the Jets.

“As a line [with Sam Lafferty and Colin Blackwell], we were just working hard and using our speed...to get in on the forecheck and create loose pucks,” Athanasiou said.

In the second period, he helped win a puck battle, then drove the net and perfectly placed a backhand shot to tie the game.

In the third period, he used his skating to beat a double-team, then weaved through the Coyotes’ defense to crash the net again, creating a situation in which Blackwell could poke in the rebound.

And in overtime, he failed to convert a breakaway but again, in doing so, created the opportunity for Caleb Jones to score seconds later.

“Once he started to feel it...he tore up the middle,” coach Luke Richardson said. “He’s starting to feel more confident, wanting the puck and demanding it.

“That’s what we want from our forwards: to skate and demand the puck from the ‘D,’ not wait and get it from them [once] they’re standing still. That’s perfect for his game with his speed.”

Athanasiou has quietly improved defensively this season and had tallied three points in his last six games entering Friday. But he had otherwise been quiet during that stretch, accumulating only four shots on goal — a number he doubled Friday alone.

The explosion served as a reminder Athanasiou could also potentially bring back some value to the Hawks at the trade deadline.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are occupying the spotlight and Lafferty and Max Domi are the other trendy rumor subjects, but Athanasiou might be worth a third-round pick or so.

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