Hawks Insider

Blackhawks finally get ‘gorilla’ off their back

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Hawks Insider
Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks went the entire month of October without a single win. They were 0-7-2 through nine games, which will go down as one of their worst starts in franchise history.

On the first day of November, the Blackhawks finally got in the win column after rolling past the Ottawa Senators 5-1 at the United Center on Monday. And you could hear the collective sigh of relief from Chicago's locker room after it got the monkey off its back.

"It’s more a big gorilla, it was not just a small monkey," a smiling Marc-Andre Fleury said. "It definitely feels good. It’s been rough, right? It’s been tough. Guys stuck with it, kept practicing hard, kept trying hard and finally tonight things went well. It was fun to show the fans something to cheer about. It was a good time."

Fleury was terrific for the second straight game, stopping 29 of 30 shots two nights after he deserved a better fate in St. Louis, where he turned aside 36 of 37 shots in a 1-0 loss. He's allowed only two goals over his last two starts for a save percentage of .970 and is finally starting to look like the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.

But it was Patrick Kane that stole the show for the Blackhawks, recording a hat trick and primary assist in his return to the lineup after missing the last four games while in COVID-19 protocol.

"There’s obviously been a lot going on and even though I wasn’t with the team the past 10 days, you could feel not having a win weighing on us a little bit," Kane said. "It’s just huge to get the first one. We kind of got the monkey off our back. It's a new month for us, and hopefully we can continue playing the way we did today. Because we were pretty solid all the way around."

 

Kane, who is fully vaccinated, said he had "a little bit of symptoms" the first few days, but "after a couple of days, I felt pretty good." Still, the NHL's protocol meant he had to be isolated for 10 days.

When it became clear that he would be cleared to rejoin the team on Monday, head coach Jeremy Colliton said Kane began texting him the day before asking to play against Ottawa despite being off the ice for 10 straight days. Kane even offered to play only 12 minutes if it meant getting into the lineup.

"Like that was going to happen," Colliton joked. "For him to step right in after 10 days, just a pretty special player."

The Blackhawks received contributions from all around, with Brandon Hagel finding the back of the net twice and Jonathan Toews registering a season-high three points. Dominik Kubalik also had a multi-point outing.

Defensively, the Blackhawks turned in one of their best performances of the season. They allowed only five high-danger chances in all situations, according to Natural Stat Trick.

The Blackhawks probably would've taken an ugly win at this point. But it felt even better knowing it came on a performance they can feel good about.

"We’re all human," Colliton said. "You look at the standings and we understand where we’re at, we’ve got to put points on the board. Everyone believes in the team we have and the players we have and there’s more there. But when you’re not breaking through and getting results, it’s hard.

"From my perspective, you go in and you ask the players to do certain things and they respond and it doesn’t end up in a win, it gets harder each time. To their credit, they stuck with it. I thought we played hard in St. Louis – not a perfect game, again – but one where we could’ve been rewarded with a point or two if things fell our way. But I like that we followed it up. We did what we had to do and again, just happy they can feel good about themselves."

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