The Blackhawks kept their march on a historic season last night by beating the Minnesota Wild by a final of 5-3. Bryan Bickell was named the number-one star after scoring two goals, while 20-year-old Brandon Saad racked up three points (1 goal; 2 assists) with most of the damage coming in the first period.
Just a little more than 21,000 fans braved the elements and fought through up to nine inches of snow to get to the United Center to watch the Blackhawks extend their streak to 23 games (20-0-3) of starting a season without a regulation loss. Just as impressive is the oft-forgotten other streak the Hawks have been quietly amassing: 10 wins in a row.
The night kicked off with a celebration of Marian Hossa and his one-thousandth game, which he achieved Sunday in Detroit. Team President John McDonough presented Hossa with a silver stick, which was engraved to mark the occasion. Hossa's wife Janna and daughter Mia were also on the ice, proudly standing next to their favorite hockey player.
After all the hoopla, the Wild got on the board first with a goal from Devin Setoguchi of a rebound which stayed in front of goalie Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks came right back a little more than four minutes later with Saad's goal from a rebound off a Jonathan Toews shot.
Bickell then scored his two goals, with Hossa jumping in on the fun. All told, the Hawks responded from Setoguchi's goal with four of their own in just under six minutes. The Wild would score two more in the third to cut the Hawks' lead to just one, but then Patrick Kane gets in on the fun with a wrister past Darcy Kuemper, who came into the second to fill in for Niklas Backstrom.
Now the Hawks turn right back around and start a home, at-home series with the Colorado Avalanche, or, as NBC is trying to stuff down our throats, "IT'S RIVALRY NIGHT!!!" Nice work, NBS Sports execs. I guess we all have to eat. And why not have a little fun with realignment looming next season.
The Hawks looked tired the first five minutes or so of the game, and for good reason. They were playing their fourth game in six night, and this is a fast-skating team. So tiring out easily is going to happen. Plus, I feel like this team is so confident, that they know they can score at will.
Take the third period for example. The Hawks went into forecheck mode and found it content to keep Dan "Car Bomb" Carcillo on the ice for a good stretch of time. The Wild clawed their way back to within one goal, which prompted coach Joel Quenneville to rally the troops and get off the heels of their skates.
The streak is starting to gain momentum in the national media (see: Smith A., Stephen). And with tonight's game airing in front of a national audience, look for even more ink (bandwidth?) to be dedicated to this team as they continue to make history, which will hopefully continue into June. Far into June. Like almost July.
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