If the Blackhawks were fully healthy and felt a little better about themselves after 12 losses in 16 games, youd have to think this game wouldnt have turned into the struggle it was.
But theyre not about to get picky two points in the standings is two points at this time of year, even against a team slumping perhaps worse than theyve been. And it came after an Uh-oh, here-we-go-again start.
A couple of the stars stepped-up after a surprisingly sluggish first period, considering what was at stake, after two of the five rookies kept them in it through 20 minutes. Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger connected to make it a 3-2 deficit going into the second, and Ray Emery stopped everything he saw but a double re-direct with two seconds remaining after taking over for Corey Crawford.
Patrick Kane scored for the second straight game and set up the first of Marian Hossas two goals in that middle period. They then hung on for dear life in the 3rd as Emery was clutch late, and will likely earn the starting nod Friday back in the place of his greatest success, Ottawa. He was also mysterious enough that the Senators cut him loose after backstopping them to the Stanley Cup Final five years ago.
While not entirely his fault in every instance, seven of the last 21 shots Crawford has faced have gotten past him, so dont be surprised if Emerys the man whos leaned upon these final 17 games.
Theyll definitely need to further step up their play over the next two weeks. The opponents in order after Friday: Sunday at Detroit, Tuesday at St. Louis, home against the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and the Blues, then back on the road to Dallas.
With their captains health remaining in limbo, Wednesday was a nice step. Now the Blackhawks will need to find a way to make bigger strides if theyre to hold their spot if not climb in the West.