OTTAWA, Ontario The writing was on the wall as the Blackhawks embarked on their latest road trip. They havent been very good away from the United Center, and if they want to do anything in the postseason including get there that had to change.
They took a big stride there on Friday night.
Marian Hossa scored the game-winner for the second consecutive game and Ray Emery stopped 25 shots against his former team as the Blackhawks beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 at ScotiaBank Place. The Blackhawks won their second in a row and remained in sixth place in the Western Conference.
The Blackhawks got everything they needed on Friday night, from strong goaltending to great defense to timely goals. They peppered Senators goaltender Robin Lehner with 39 shots, overcoming a 1-0 deficit in the process.
We said to the guys after the game, Thats our biggest win. Its exactly what we wanted, coach Joel Quenneville said. We had everybody going, we had short shifts, had good energy and purpose. We needed a great start to this trip and thats the type of game we wanted.
Patrick Kane, who didnt make the score sheet despite a tremendous game by him and fellow top-liners Andrew Brunette and Hossa, nevertheless loved the outcome.
Thats probably everything you can ask for as a team and we probably couldve scored a couple more goals, too, Kane said. Were shaping up to be a good team. We just have to stay focused.
The top line had plenty of that on Friday, and how they didnt end up with a couple of goals is credit to Lehner and, perhaps, some tough luck.
They missed some A-plus-plus-plus chances, but youve got to love their puck possession and threat off the rush, Quenneville said. It was a dangerous line two games in a row. The finish wasnt there but we loved the way they played.
While the skill was tallying the shots on one end the Blackhawks defense was stymying the Senators on the other. Between the checking line and defensemen, the Blackhawks kept the Senators at bay.
We put tons of pucks at their net, got our chances and did things the right way and really limited their chances, said Emery. We protected our lead well, really let them make their mistakes and still got chances. Its important we won but more important that we won the right way.
Emery took care of the rest, saving some of his biggest stops for the final few minutes when the Senators were looking for an equalizer. Emery felt a little sentimental in returning to Ottawa, but put those feelings aside once the game began.
I played here for a while and had some great times and I still have some good friends on the team, he said. But I realize it was a huge game for the team. Were in a tough spot as far as the playoff battle goes. You have to forget that stuff and focus on the game.
The Blackhawks got a little bit from everyone on Friday. Most important, they got the type of game theyre going to need this spring, especially on the road. On their last multi-game road trip of the regular season, it was an excellent start.
We expect better on the road, Emery said. And its a goal of ours, especially on this trip, to correct that and put that to rest.