NEW YORK That thud you just heard was the Blackhawks dropping a mammoth weight off their shoulders.
Jonathan Toews scored on a penalty shot 65 seconds into the game, and the Blackhawks got all their offense in the first 10 minutes of their 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday night. The Blackhawks snapped a nine-game winless streak, collecting their first victory since Jan. 20 and their first road triumph since Dec. 14.
As coach Joel Quenneville put it, we havent had too many regular-season wins that felt as good as that.
Be it happiness or relief, the Blackhawks locker room exuded it.
Happy. I dont know what other word to use. That was just complete effort, said Corey Crawford, who stopped 22 of 24 for the victory. At the beginning of the game I dont think there was any tension or nervousness. It was just everyone knew what we had to do and we just went out there and played.
And it all started with Toews penalty shot, which energized the Blackhawks immediately.
If I dont score on that one the feeling on the bench, and maybe for myself, is going to be, What do we have to do to score and get things going? Toews said. It was nice to get that and we followed it up with four or five big shifts.
They also followed it up with a few big goals. Nick Leddys blue-line shot got through traffic, Patrick Sharp added his 23rd and Marian Hossa scored on a breakaway to give the Blackhawks a 4-0 lead just 9:38 into the game.
Everything went our way the first 10 minutes, Kane said. We could have probably played better after that but I dont think anybody cares about that right now. Were so happy to get the win.
The Blackhawks werent perfect but were definitely solid, from team defense to lack of costly mistakes the Blackhawks were credited with zero giveaways and nine takeaways.
And their penalty kill was pivotal, going 7 for 7 and keeping the Rangers quality chances to a minimum.
Still, it got a little interesting toward the end. Carl Hagelins goal brought the Rangers to within two with less than five minutes in regulation. But the Blackhawks didnt let down in this one.
They score that second goal to make it 4-2, and when youre in a 9-game stretch you start questioning yourself, Sharp said. But we stuck together and really sucked it up the last few minutes there and limited their chances.
The Blackhawks were happy, relieved and free of the weight of a nine-game winless streak. Theyre not, however, going to savor this one too long. It was one, and it was the first positive one in a long time. But they need to string a few more of these together before they start feeling really happy again.
It doesnt take an analyst to look at the stats and the standings and realize we have to play like that down the stretch, Sharp said. But our last two games and a few other periods during that losing stretch were really positive. And at this point, I think were just happy to get on that plane and feel good about ourselves again.