The Blackhawks turned the page to a new chapter over the weekend after relieving head coach Jeremy Colliton and assistants Sheldon Brookbank and Tomas Mitell of their duties. The players, however, were careful not to call it a fresh start or a clean slate, although it was difficult not to.
"It's almost like having to hit the reset button a little bit," defenseman Jake McCabe said. "It's a tough situation. There's no other way to describe it, frankly."
Since hitting the reset button, the Blackhawks finally look like a competitive hockey team. They won their second game in a row on Tuesday, knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in a shootout.
"Winning makes everything better," said Seth Jones, who scored his first goal in a Chicago sweater.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed four goals on 10 shots in the first meeting against his former team, was absolutely terrific. He stopped 42 of 44 shots for a save percentage of .955 and was named the second star of the game, although you could argue he deserved the top spot.
"I was happy to get the nod and get a crack at them again," Fleury said. "It was frustrating last time and embarrassing a bit for me."
The win didn't come easy, though.
The Blackhawks were in control of the game through two periods, where they led 2-0, but the Penguins came out with an enormous push in the third period. The Blackhawks were outshot (20-5) and out-chanced (14-3) by a wide margin in the final frame, and the Penguins eventually evened things up and forced extras.
"They were going to push, we knew that," interim head coach Derek King said. "They tilted the ice. It was like that treadmill, you've got that treadmill fully tilted up and we were at the bottom of it. We just could not get ourselves out of it."
After a wildly entertaining 3-on-3 overtime, the Blackhawks sealed the deal in a shootout to earn their third win of the season. And they're slowly starting to build some confidence.
"It feels nice," Fleury said. "Just walking in the room seeing guys smile at practice, before the games, during the game. We want to do better for this team and for the fans. It was definitely a frustrating start to the season and I’m glad the last two games feel better and we’re going to keep building on that and try to put on a good show at home."
The Blackhawks know they have a lot to clean up still. They allowed 32 scoring chances and 14 high-danger chances at even strength, according to Natural Stat Trick, and if it wasn't for Fleury, who knows how badly the third period could've turned out.
But that's going to be a gradual process. The fact is, the Blackhawks are battling hard and are finally stringing together solid efforts.
"Listen, it's two wins," King said. "There's some cleaning up to do, obviously. But at least the battle level is there, the accountability is there, and you can see these guys are actually playing for each other."