This is where the Blackhawks are right now. They can give up a two-goal lead, stutter through a second period against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and still continue their winning streak.
Yeah, things aren’t going too bad for the Hawks these days, who extended their run to five games on Friday night by beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 thanks to Brandon Saad’s goal with 27 seconds left in the third period. There were points during the night – especially the second period – when they looked vulnerable but found a way to win their 10th game in 12.
“You could sense on the bench that the guys … there was no desperation as far we’re heading in the right direction, let’s be positive. Finding a way is what it’s always about,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They did a good job of it.”
They needed to do that after a second period that saw them squander 56 seconds of a two-man advantage and give up two goals. The second was a power-play score by P.K. Subban that put Montreal up 3-2 with 2:38 remaining in the period.
But the third period was what the Blackhawks needed. Jonathan Toews’ power-play goal evened the game, eventually leading to Saad’s winner past Carey Price (32 saves). No, the Blackhawks didn’t play the full 60 minutes they want, but they were still able to get the points.
“I think we come out strong and kind of lose focus in the second period, and that’s something we’re trying to do is build to play a full 60 minutes,” Saad said. “That’s how we’re going to get wins and I think coming in and regrouping and getting ready for the third, we got some momentum off that power play and it went from there.”
That’s what’s been happening to the Blackhawks since their first game with the Canadiens, a 5-0 rout on Nov. 4 in Montreal that was at the tail end of their early season struggles. Since then, the Hawks have only lost three times and are putting some concerns well behind them.
“Guys are working hard and we’re getting the results we want,” Toews said before the game. “If we can kind of contrast that with where we were maybe a month ago when it was a little more frustrating, we were working hard but we weren’t seeing the results that we wanted.
“It’s a little bit tougher to work through that sometimes, so I think with that in mind we can continue to have fun and make sure that we’re paying attention to details and that we’re doing the right things on the ice as a team and we’ll keep this thing going.”
They did that during the third period. The second period wasn’t their best, but the Hawks put it into the past quickly.
“(The game-winning goal) came really late so it’s even better to get this kind of win, get the whole team’s confidence higher and higher,” said Antti Raanta, who made 38 saves. “It’s great being a part (of) this team now. It’s nice to go there and just play the game and have fun with the guys.”
NOTES: Jeremy Morin was scratched for the seventh straight game Friday, and Quenneville didn’t rule out sending the winger to the AHL Rockford IceHogs. But for the Hawks to send Morin to the IceHogs, he would have to clear waivers.
– Recalled Wednesday, Klas Dahlbeck was also a scratch but Quenneville said there’s a chance he could play Saturday in Nashville against the Predators.