The Blackhawks have talked all season about their depth and how anyone, on any given night, can be the latest hero. For yet another game, they put it into action, too.
Brent Seabrook scored the game-winner, and the Blackhawks’ magical start continued with their 4-3 ovetime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. The Blackhawks ran their regulation loss-free streak to 21 consecutive games, as they now sport an 18-0-3 mark heading into Sunday’s game in Detroit.
It’s a run that even has players a bit perplexed.
“That doesn’t feel like the record we have right now,” said Bryan Bickell, who scored his third goal of the season. “We’re just approaching every game to get two points.”
And once again they got them, thanks to that spread-the-wealth scoring. A night after Jonathan Toews scored two in the Blackhawks’ victory over the Blues, the Blackhawks got a goal from four different players. Viktor Stalberg, who killed the Blue Jackets last year, got his first of 2013 against them in the first period. Patrick Sharp and Bickell scored within 59 seconds of each other.
[WATCH: Bickell says the streak has been awesome]
But it wasn’t without a fight. For all their struggles and injuries, the Blue Jackets have given the Blackhawks headaches in all three games this season, all of which have been one-goal contests. And there were the Jackets again on Friday, playing the Blackhawks down to the wire – and beyond.
It was something coach Joel Quenneville talked about before the game, and something the Blackhawks expected.
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“They’re a completely different team than in the past,” said Viktor Stalberg, who had his way with the Blue Jackets last season and added another goal against them tonight. “They’re more composed, they don’t give you as much. This year, they’re playing a lot harder and you have to work for every inch out there. It was another tough one, but we found a way to get it done. That’s the biggest thing.”
Ryan Johansen helped the Blue Jackets force overtime with his goal 12:23 into the third period. Seabrook, who had a great chance early in overtime, wouldn’t be denied on his second opportunity; although he was surprised to be the beneficiary of Toews’ pass.
“He didn’t look at me once, and I didn’t yell (for the puck). He’s pretty good in those situations,” Seabrook said of Toews. “I said to (Ray Emery) earlier, ‘I don’t think I shot the puck.’ It was such a hard pass I think it just hit my stick and bounced in.”
The Blackhawks have gone this far because everyone has equal value. Anyone can be the hero on a given night. Everyone has the confidence to be the guy.
The streak has been staggering. So has the Blackhawks’ level of depth and contributions.
“I don’t think anyone would’ve thought of that going into the season,” Stalberg said of the 18-0-3 mark. “But we’re excited with how we’re playing. In the big scheme of things we’re playing really sound hockey. We’re not giving up a lot of goals, we’re scoring by committee, we’re finding ways to get it done. We want to keep this rolling as long as we can.”