Blackhawks blow by Red Wings 5-2 for 7th win in row, stay in wild-card chase
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Nothing has come easily for the Blackhawks this season, but this was as close to cruising as they’ve gotten.
They took the lead against the Red Wings in the first period Sunday and answered a pair of late goals to sail to a 5-2 victory and keep themselves in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. They’ve won seven consecutive games for their longest wining streak since March 2017.
It was a relatively breezy victory, with the only substantive drama coming when the Red Wings’ Gustav Nyquist cut the Hawks’ lead to 3-2 with 4:30 left. But Patrick Kane countered a minute later with his 33rd goal on a breakaway.
‘‘We’re a tough team to contend with when we’re playing the right way,’’ said center Dylan Strome, who added a goal and two assists. ‘‘And we’ve been doing that for the last two weeks.’’
Rookie center Dominik Kahun scored twice for the first multigoal game of his career, Kane extended his point streak to 14 games and resurgent goalie Cam Ward stopped 43 of 45 shots.
But on an afternoon in which a lot of things looked right for a team that was on life support early in his tenure, Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton wasn’t exactly cheerful.
He spoke for five minutes after the game without it being clear whether he was pleased. He’ll take the result, of course, but he seemed perturbed by portions of the Hawks’ play.
He wanted ‘‘a little more killer instinct’’ rather than letting the Red Wings hang around and cause some brief stress at the end. He saw plays that weren’t made and momentum squandered.
‘‘I’m just not satisfied,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘We’re not where we want to be. We’ve got to keep getting better. We can. There’s more.
‘‘So we’re happy we won, we got the two points we dearly needed and we’ll go back to work . . . and that’s the mentality we should have as a group.’’
Maybe that’s the smart philosophy. The Hawks are past the beggars-can’t-be-choosers phase of their growth and aren’t content to win sloppily.
The truth is, just about any effort would have beaten the lowly Red Wings, who were playing for the third time in four days and using their backup goalie. That same performance might not be enough when the Hawks visit the Bruins, a probable playoff team, on Tuesday.
Colliton demands a high standard of play, regardless of the outcome, because he’s coaching for the long term, not merely the possibility of eking out a wild-card spot this season.
As for the latter goal, the Hawks likely are going to be desperate for points the rest of the season. That will make it exciting as they seek to emerge from a jumble of seven teams vying for two spots.
After sitting way out of reach for months, the Hawks (55 points) are four points behind the Wild and Blues (both at 59). The Canucks (57) are next, followed by the Hawks and Avalanche.
The pack eventually will thin, and every team in the mix can surge or crash in a given week. With so many teams involved and the Hawks trying to climb from the bottom, there is minimal room for letting victories slip away.
‘‘We’ve just got to make sure we don’t think we’re going to just show up and it’ll just happen,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘We’ve got to work; we’ve got to do the right things. And if you do it for close to 60 minutes, we’ll get the points we want.’’