The chances have been there, be it breakaways, odd-man rushes or just solid scoring opportunities.
Game after game, however, those great chances weren’t going in for Marian Hossa. His goal-less streak reached 14 games, the longest of his career. It was understandable if he was feeling aggravated.
“Well, maybe not as much as when I was younger,” Hossa said. “It probably would’ve been tougher.”
Perhaps the goal-scoring drought would have affected him more during his early career. That doesn’t mean Hossa, who turns 37 on Tuesday, still wasn’t frustrated. But for Hossa it was about keeping his focus, keeping that defensive game going in the midst of the offense going quiet, and figuring it was only a matter of time before goals went in again.
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On Sunday he finally got rewarded, scoring two goals in the Blackhawks’ 6-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Hossa’s happiness and relief were evident when that first one went in 1:39 into the second period. His second came with 1:18 remaining in that period. Playing an all-around game has long been Hossa’s trademark. Still, given the quality chances he was getting, Hossa couldn’t help but feel snake-bitten.
“At my age, it’s not about me just scoring goals. But [with] so many good opportunities it was bugging me that I couldn’t put the puck in. If I wouldn’t have the chances that would be different but I had so many opportunities and the puck didn’t go in,” Hossa said. “I tried to stay positive and keep working hard.”
The Blackhawks’ top line felt the brunt of offseason losses more than anyone. With Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad gone, Hossa and Jonathan Toews have gone through a myriad of left wingers this season. At the same time, Toews and Hossa were looking for consistent scoring in their own games. While Toews was finding more goals lately – seven in his last 13 games – Hossa was being thwarted until Sunday’s breakthrough game.
“I don’t know how many breakaways he’s missed this year but nice to see a couple go in for him,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He was strong in the puck area several times with the positioning, strength and down with the stick, coming up with three or four pucks and sustaining some plays. The finished product was there for him too tonight, so good to see him scoring.”
And the jump Hossa had after he got that first goal was evident the rest of Sunday night.
“He’s a goal-scorer; he wants to score goals. You could see after he scored he made some really nice plays, just holding onto the puck, got a few more chances,” Patrick Kane said. “He was fun to watch [Sunday].”
Whatever Hossa was feeling on the inside about his scoring drought, he didn’t let affect his all-around game. He got back in the goal-scoring column on Sunday. And with 500 goals so close, could that be the outing that leads to a goal-scoring streak?
“That would be nice but every year’s different,” he said. “Obviously this one felt good. I’ll just try to keep working hard and get more opportunities.”