Close and a lotta (victory) cigars

Close and a lotta (victory) cigars
March 3, 2013, 8:15 pm
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All but six of these 22 games in the Blackhawks' record season-opening streak without a regulation loss have been decided by a single goal. Of the 13 in which they've grabbed both points, 10 can be divided into two categories. It shows the fine line about how a team that let so many points slip away a year ago is now gobbling them up. Here are those ten from  an opponents' point of view.

"If we only had five more minutes of regulation":

Jan. 22nd - The Hawks jump out to a 3-0 lead in the home opener, but St. Louis dominates the third period, scoring twice, including the one that brought them to within 3-2 with 5:07 left. Corey Crawford and company withstand the pressure to seal the deal.

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Jan. 26th - What appears to be a comfortable 3-1 lead at Columbis gets cut to 3-2 with 2:19 to play on a goal by Artem Anisimov, but they hold off a final push by the Blue Jackets to improve to 5-0.

Feb. 17th - Similar to 1/22, the Kings were down 3-0 a minute into the 2nd, but the defending champs pushed, connected on a pair of Mike Richards power play goals in the third, but Ray Emery and company stand up to the heat over the final 7:10.

Feb. 19th - Out to avenge one of their shootout losses, things look good early in the 3rd at 3-1 until Marian Hossa's knocked out of the game by Jannik Hansen. Vancouver uses it as momentum, but doesn't get to within 3-2 until an Alex Edler power play goal with 2:42 remaining. Corey Schneider gets pulled early and 1:41 later, Kevin Bieksa forces overtime with the extra attacker. Andrew Shaw eventually wins it in the shootout while Emery shuts the door on three Canucks shooters.

[RELATED: By the numbers: Hawks make it 22 straight]

Feb. 25th - After the Hawks tied it on an early third period goal by Viktor Stalberg, the Oilers' nothing-to-lose young guns fly around in the final moments but can't prevent overtime, when the Hawks dominated and Marian Hossa closed the deal.

Mar. 1st - The Jackets score a late goal to send the game to OT, before Jonathan Toews makes an incredible rush - and an even more incredible coss-ice blind pass for Brent Seabrook to bury the second point.

"We almost had `em":

Jan. 24th - The Hawks were pushing the entire third period to rally from a 2-0 deficit in Dallas, but Stars penalties meant a comeback. Jonathan Toews with under six minutes left to equalize before Hossa got his pass from Patrick Kane to seal the deal in overtime.

Jan. 27th - After sweating out a win the night before in Columbus (see above), Detroit scored early in the third to tie 1-1 and had its share of chances the rest of regulation. But the Hawks pushed it to OT, where Nick leddy won it midway through to establish the best start (6-0-0) in club history.

Feb. 2nd - The very definition of this category. Calgary was as dominant against the Hawks as any team this season as the Hawks came off a shootout loss the night before in Vancouver. The Flames finally beat Emery a second time with 35 seconds left off a Kane turnover. But Kane then helped set up Hossa's extra-attacker equalizer with less than three ticks left, then Kane delivered the shootout winner. The biggest "steal" of the season.

Sunday - Detroit left everything on the ice to try to snap their rival's streak, but when Jonathan Ericsson flipped the puck into the stands with less than three minutes to go in regulation, that's all this Hawks team seems to need. Kane finally ruined Jimmy Howard's shutout bid on the ensuing power play, then dangled and dazzled for the lone shootout goal while Crawford took care of his business at the other end.

The Hawks finished the regular season last year 10-0-4 in one-goal games. They went 2-3 (all overtime) in the playoffs versus Phoenix. And now 13-0-3 in those games this year.

The Hawks finished last season 22nd in goals allowed per game, and 27th on the penalty kill. They're first and third, respectively, in those categories this season.