Five Things from Blackhawks-Red Wings: Winning another tight one

Five Things from Blackhawks-Red Wings: Winning another tight one

Let's look at Five Things to take away from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night:

1. Blackhawks' recent dominance against Detroit continues.

The Red Wings own a 336-269-14-84 record all-time in the regular season against Chicago, but it's the Blackhawks that have had their way with their arch rival in recent years.

With Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win, the Blackhawks improved to 12-1-4 in their last 17 meetings against Detroit. The final meeting of the season will be March 10 at the Joe Louis Arena.

"We were asked today, is there still a rivalry between Detroit and us?" Joel Quenneville said after the game. "I think you could sense it right off the bat, in the building, and the fans, and the chants, and the enthusiasm. ... It was fun playing against these guys. I think the players look forward to it because it’s always a good game and playing the right way against them is something we talk about a lot, that you have to do.

"But I still think there’s still some history there that it’s fun playing these guys. There’s a lot of mutual respect."

2. A productive night for the power play.

The Blackhawks had six power-play opportunities, and cashed in on two of those, most notably the game-winner in overtime thanks to a Duncan Keith slapper from the point.

It's an area the Blackhawks are trying to be more consistent in, and it could serve as a springboard going forward.

"The first one was OK, the second and third one we had a lot of chances," said Brian Campbell, who scored the first of two power-play goals. "We had a couple penalties, so you get 10 seconds on the power play, so it's still an 0-for — I know that makes the PP coach not very happy," he joked. "And obviously [Keith], 4-on-3, we haven't had one in a while but we struggled there early in the season so that was big to get that going."

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3. Brian Campbell back on the scoresheet.

Campbell had a 423-game iron-man streak that ended in December, in large part due to a crowded blue line. Nonetheless, he was still a healthy scratch in two of four games last month, but is starting to get more comfortable as of late.

He scored his fourth goal of the season on the power play in the win, which is now tied for second on the team among defensemen. 

"I think we're starting to roll our lines a lot better," he said. "We're picking up the tempo of the game a little more."

That suits Campbell's style.

4. Third line keeps shining.

The Blackhawks' third line of Ryan Hartman, Tanner Kero and Richard Panik combined for two goals and three assists, continuing their hot stretch. 

While they didn't have great possession numbers — they're certainly improving — the trio is most importantly gaining Joel Quenneville's trust on both ends of the ice.

"They were great tonight," Quenneville said. "You can talk about each one of them and describe their game. They’ve got some physicality in the puck area, they’ve got some separation, counter hits where they’ve got the puck protected. And made some good plays off the rush. They go to the net, they hang around the net. All their goals were like that.

"But they generated a lot of offense and offensive zone time, as well. They’re getting better. That line was outstanding."

5. Blackhawks win another tight one.

The Blackhawks' success in tight games continued with Tuesday's overtime win, improving to 17-6-5 in one-goal games this season. 

What gives?

Keith: "We've played a lot of tight games, and I think that's a good thing. We're finding ways to win some of them. I think we know that there's still room for improvement if we want to be a team that goes all the way. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves. We know there's still half a season here, but we've done good things. We're trying to get better."

Quenneville: "We had a lot of close games. Every game, you look around the league, they’re close games. I think the number of overtime games is a little higher than we’ve seen in the past. Everybody plays comparable. All the teams are pretty even. You look at the standings, you see just about every team .500 or above. I think 28 of the 30 are almost in that same neighborhood. I think teams know how to play to keep themselves in games. And then the score dictates a lot of the way the game is being played. Seems like there’s so much balance in the league, the parity’s as good as it’s ever been, or close as it’s ever been."

First goal with Blackhawks 'a release' for Tomas Jurco

First goal with Blackhawks 'a release' for Tomas Jurco

Tomas Jurco's reaction to his first goal on Monday night was as much celebration as a little bit of relief. The forward, acquired by the Blackhawks about a month ago, had had a few great scoring chances in recent games but just couldn't capitalize.

Finally, he got that first of the season against Tampa Bay.

"It's kind of a release, you know?" Jurco said on Wednesday. "I've had a lot of good chances and it would just never go in for some reason. Obviously I'm very happy that it went in and hopefully this is the start of, I would say, more luck for me."

Looking for consistency in his own game as well as a consistent spot in the lineup, Jurco was looking for a boost of confidence. Getting that first goal could be part of it, as a bit of a weight disappears with that zero in the goal column. 

"That's a hurdle that can be in the back of your mind a lot and all of a sudden it could be a nice release," coach Joel Quenneville said of that first goal. "He's progressing in our team game, technically. Whether it's his pace of play or going to the right areas quickly, we're looking for progression. We saw it [Monday] night and I think he'll continue to get better off that. But certainly that should help him get confidence as we go along here."

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Jurco's been around the net, something the Blackhawks always encourage, for most of those scoring opportunities. Perhaps some of that puck luck wasn't quite there. But Jurco is gaining confidence in recent games, and getting that goal could boost it that much more.

"I've always said, especially in my case, scoring helps that confidence come easier. It brings that fun to the game," Jonathan Toews said. "Maybe if you're not feeling it or not playing with high energy, at a certain point in a game when you score, for some reason you get that jolt, you get that jump. For [Jurco], he's been playing well when he's been in, and no doubt that scoring a goal like that can help boost confidence and help him find his game, which we know he has and will continue to show."

The scoring hurdle has been cleared and Jurco is gaining confidence. Will he carve out a consistent spot in the lineup? Quenneville has some options through the bottom six. That, coupled with the Blackhawks playing inconsistent hockey lately and missing that four-line rotation, Jurco's been one of several who have been in and out of the lineup. But Quenneville said on Wednesday, "I don't see making constant changes once the [playoffs] begin." If Jurco keeps getting chances and capitalizing on a few, and if he ends up as part of a rotation that's successful again, he could stick.

Jurco waited a little bit for that first goal. He hopes it's just the start.

"You know eventually it's going to go in but it was just frustrating. Another game and another and another with good chances and it just wouldn't go in. So it's a big release," Jurco said. "Hopefully I'll keep going, keep producing."

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