DETROIT – The Blackhawks had a feeling they could do something when they got that late power play on Sunday.
Sure, they were down 1-0 to the Red Wings in another classic between the two teams. But in the few times they’ve been down during this no-regulation-loss streak, the Blackhawks have always thought they could pull something out of the hat.
They did. And once again, the Blackhawks find a way to prolong the run.
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Patrick Kane scored a power-play goal with 2:02 remaining in regulation, then tallied the shootout game-winner in the Blackhawks’ come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Detroit on Sunday. The Blackawks have now gone 22 games to start the season without a regulation loss. They also have 28 consecutive games without a regulation loss dating back to last season, which ties them with the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens for the second-longest streak in that category.
The 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers still hold the record for most consecutive games without a regulation loss (35).
Corey Crawford had left after the first period in Thursday’s game vs. St. Louis with a mysterious upper-body injury. Apparently he’s over it; he looked great in stopping 32-of-33 on Sunday.
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“I felt good. I didn’t get much work for the first half of the game so I had to try and stay into it. But our guys came up with a huge kill at the end of the second there; had some big blocks,” said Crawford, who also credited the blue-liners. “Our defensemen have been so good, blocking shots and taking passing lanes away. They’ve been so solid back there.”
It was another game where the Blackhawks did what was necessary. They dressed seven defensemen to start the game, with Sheldon Brookbank playing some right wing on the fourth line. Coach Joel Quenneville said “called an audible after warm-up there, made an adjustment.” Asked if there was an injury in pregame, Quenneville didn’t really specify, saying, “We made an adjustment, whether it was injury or whatever.”
Kane, meanwhile, double-shifted some in the first period and ended up playing 23 ½ minutes, the most of any forward.
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“You always like the ice time and the chance to play,” said Kane, who added Quenneville always asked him if he was OK, and he always said yes. “Sometimes you’re a little tired. But once you get off you catch your breath quick. It’s not something I worry about.”
Apparently not, because Kane was there for the power-play goal, off a quick pass from Viktor Stalberg, to force overtime. Stalberg said the Blackhawks, on that advantage, felt opportunity was there for the taking.
“When you’re on a streak there are going to be small margins hat keep you alive. When we got that power play, we had a feeling we were going to be able to do something,” said Stalberg, whose Blackhawks got that advantage when Jonathan Ericsson threw the puck over the glass. “We got a fortunate bounce, but we played a great game overall. It could’ve been 3-3 or 4-4 but the goalies were unbelieveable. You deserve your bounces sometimes, and we got one there.”
And Crawford handled just about all the bounces on the other side. He and Jimmy Howard were both tremendous in their respective nets on Sunday. Howard was staunch when the Blackhawks were outshooting the Wings badly through a period and a half, and Crawford was there at the end after the Wings took a 1-0 advantage on Tomas Tatar’s goal early in the third.
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“(Kane) makes things happen, and it was a great play by Viktor as well. Nice finish,” Quenneville said. “The whole bench had a louder cheer than normal when that went in.”
The Blackhawks’ reasons to cheer continue. They’ve had a lot of complete-team efforts. When they get bounces in their favor, they take advantage of them. It’s 22 in a row now. The beat goes on.
“We’ve talked about the resiliency with this team the past couple of weeks. It seems like we just keep finding ways to keep ourselves in the game or find a way to win it at the end,” Kane said. “It’s just amazing what’s going on, but it’s been fun.”