Supplemental scoring. It was once a barren category for the Blackhawks. When their stars went quiet, there rarely was anyone there to pick up the slack.
Can’t say that this season.
Bryan Bickell scored twice and Brandon Saad tallied a three-point night as the Chicago Blackhawks went on an early scoring barrage, then held on to beat the Minnesota Wild 5-3 at the United Center. The Blackhawks have now run their regulation-loss free streak to 23 games to start the season (20-0-3). They’ve gone 29 games without a regulation loss dating back to last spring, which puts them second overall in league history for that. The Flyers still have the record with 35 consecutive games.
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They’ve also won 10 straight games, setting a franchise record for longest winning streak.
Marian Hossa, who was honored before the game for playing in his 1,000th-career NHL game on Sunday, scored his 10th goal of the season. Patrick Kane added a late one to give the Blackhawks their two-goal winning margin. Corey Crawford stopped 20-of-23.
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For Saad, it was another strong night, with a goal and two assists to show for it. But veterans who play around him aren’t surprised at what he’s been able to do.
“He’s the man-child,” Jonathan Toews said. “He’s an absolute beast out there. He’s so strong, fearless. He goes into those corners and tight areas; there could be two guys coming after him and he’s bouncing them both off the puck and creating scoring chances off it. There’s no situation where he can’t come up with the puck.”
Saad said it was an “enjoyable night.”
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“Everything was clicking, everything seemed to go in,” he said. “It was just one of those nights.”
For Bickell, the first two-goal game of his career couldn’t have come at a better time. Saad’s goal tied it 1-1, then his two goals – the first coming 44 seconds after Saad’s – gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 advantage and set them on course for two more before the first period’s end.
“I’ve been passing more than shooting, but my strength is my shot,” Bickell said. “We have great depth with our team, and you can’t just rely on our first two lines to score every night. It’s nice to get two goals at home.”
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As nice as that 4-1 lead was at the end of one – and kept through two – it just about disappeared in the third. A Wild comeback, sparked by Ryan Suter’s first goal in a Minnesota uniform (via the power play) got the Wild within two. Then Kyle Brodziak added another about halfway through the period to cut Chicago’s lead to 4-3.
“Sometimes you get a little loose when you do get a nice lead. I don’t want to say casual, but we let them get back n the game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “There were dangerous tips at the net that Corey had to make some big stops on. We had pucks flying around that were dangerous.”
But Kane added to his personal great start with his 12th goal of the season, just 61 seconds after Brodziak’s, to put the Blackhawks up 5-3.
Secondary scoring? The Blackhawks had it. Some third-period drama? Yep. Another notch added to a ridiculous run? Oh yeah, that too. The Blackhawks keep plugging away, regardless of the highs and so-so moments.
“We respond to challenges, whether up or down a goal,” Toews said. “There are teams coming at you who want to spoil it. None of it seems to phase us. We’re concentrating on the details. That’s all that matters to us.”