Blackhawks beaming with newfound confidence, extend win steak to 6
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Don’t count the Blackhawks out yet. They’re beaming with newfound confidence.
Whether they wanted to admit it or not, Thursday’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Canucks at the United Center was the Hawks’ biggest game of the season.
It’s a weird concept for the Hawks that an early February game would have high stakes. But after notching 12 points in the last two-and-a-half weeks, the Hawks went from seemingly being destined for a lottery pick to one of four teams two or less points shy of a playoff spot.
“It’s very top heavy this year,” right wing Patrick Kane said of the Western Conference. “It’s really anyone’s game. Whoever puts together a good run the last 28 games.”
And the Hawks are asking themselves: “Why can’t it be us?”
Riding a six-game win streak — their longest of the season — the Hawks are channeling their winning culture that resulted in three Stanley Cups.
“Now’s the time, right?” Kane said. “Everyone’s feeling confident … Just keep doing the same things. I think we know the recipe for success now.”
And one of those ingredients is a productive power-play, which is coach Jeremy Colliton’s biggest accomplishment this season.
The Hawks’ first two goals — scored less than one minute apart in the first period by right wing Alex DeBrincat and left wing Brandon Saad, respectively — came on the power-play.
Kane attributed the recent uptick of the Hawks’ power-play, which is converting at a league-best 40.4 percent clip since Dec. 23, to the team’s chemistry.
“Every time there’s a penalty, we’re excited to be out there,” said Kane, who extended his point streak to 13 games with an assist on DeBrincat’s first goal. “We want to be a difference, we want to score goals. And even if we don’t score, everybody’s kind of pissed off because we expected to. So you’ve got to score the next one for sure.”
The Hawks faltered in the second period, giving up back-to-back goals. But DeBrincat revived the Hawks, scoring his 28th goal of the season off a feed from center Dylan Strome, who had three assists.
The Canucks forced overtime late in the third period, but captain Jonathan Toews took care of business after skating a long circle in the Canucks’ zone before sniping one past their goalie.
The Hawks weren’t necessarily proud of the way they played. They were outshot 43-35. But the important thing is they found a way to bounce back, which hadn’t always been the case this season.
“It’s part of why we’re winning games right now,” Toews said. “Whether we’re on our A game or not. Tonight we had spurts where we were making mistakes and I think collectively we know we could be better in those areas, as far as managing the puck and managing our shifts and playing with a bit more energy if we keep them short. The fact that we can hang in there — it’s unfortunate to give up a late goal, but we’re finding ways to win right now even not playing our best hockey.”
And the best is yet to come, Toews said.
“We’ve got to give these guys credit for how we stuck with it, how we’ve kept that mood up even through the tough parts of the season,” he said. “It’s nice to see it turning into results right now … but we’ve got to keep working, keep pushing to get better because we know we’re not even close to the ceiling yet.”