Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Comeback overtime victory gives Blackhawks first four-game winning streak of season

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Comeback overtime victory gives Blackhawks first four-game winning streak of season

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday:

1. A gutsy comeback victory

Going into Saturday, the Blackhawks were 5-19-3 when giving up the first goal for a win percentage of .185, which ranked second-to-last in the NHL. Meanwhile, the Wild were 9-1-1 when leading after one period for a win percentage of .818, which ranked sixth.

The Blackhawks battled back and traded goals with the Wild twice before Erik Gustafsson scored the game-winner in overtime for his first multi-goal effort of his NHL career. He had previously gone 15 straight games without a goal. What a way to snap out of that drought.

Since returning from a nine-day break, the Blackhawks have won back-to-back road games in a span of 24 hours and stretched their winning streak to four games, which is a new season long. And they're now only three points out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference, although they still have six teams to jump and all six of those clubs have games in hand. 

2. Power play bounces back

After going 0-for-2 in Buffalo that ended a streak where they scored a power play in nine consecutive games, the Blackhawks bounced back with the man advantage and did so in a big way. 

The Blackhawks were awarded five power plays, and failed to capitalize on the first three. But they didn't on the final two.

Jonathan Toews put the Blackhawks in front 3-2 with 3:35 left in regulation when he tipped in a shot on the power play. Minnesota responded just 1:33 later, but Ryan Suter committed a delay of game penalty with 19 seconds remaining and the Blackhawks converted on a 4-on-3 man advantage in overtime. It was a perfect rebound performance.

3. Point streaks extended

Patrick Kane has been on a ridiculous streak for more than a month now. All season, really. And that continued on Saturday. After recording a primary assist on Toews' power-play goal, he extended his season-long point streak to 11 games and has 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) over that span.

In other news, Alex DeBrincat scored a goal and added two assists to extend his point streak to five games. He's also recorded at least one point in nine of his past 10 games, and has eight goals during that stretch. His 26 goals is two away from matching the total (28) from last season during his rookie campaign, which led the Blackhawks.

And finally, Toews' point streak is now up to four games. He has nine points (five goals, four assists) during that stretch.

4. Dylan Strome heating up

All the attention has been on DeBrincat, Kane and Toews as of late, but there's one notable Blackhawk that's flying under the radar and continues to produce. With two assists against the Wild, Strome has had a multi-point outing in four of his last six games after having just one point in his previous six.

In 29 games with the Blackhawks, Strome has nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points for a points-per-game rate of 0.79. His 82-game pace would be 26 goals and 39 assists for 65 points. He's been a terrific acquisition so far.

Patrick Kane’s 2010 Game 6 OT goal named Goal of the Decade by the NHL

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USA Today

Patrick Kane’s 2010 Game 6 OT goal named Goal of the Decade by the NHL

Since joining the NHL in 2007, Patrick Kane continues to have a long and illustrious career. He was recently honored for being the 90th player in NHL history for to record 1,000 points, the fourth only member of the franchise to do so. Now in a lead up to announcing their First and Second All-Decade teams on January 24th, the NHL has awarded Kane with Goal of the Decade.

The goal being celebrated occurred during Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final against the Philadelphia Flyers. Chicago fans all remember the moment. The Blackhawks and Flyers were 3-3 going into overtime and with 4:06 minutes left on the clock, Kane scores the game winning point. The Blackhawks go on to win the Cup, ending the championship drought in Chicago after 49 years.

The Flyers had tied up the game to 3-3 with 3:59 minutes remaining in regulation, but Kane brought back the win for the Blackhawks. To call it triumphant would be a massive understatement.

"I was calling for the puck, trying to make a play on the defenseman [Kimmo] Timonen," Kane told NHL.com.  "I just got around him and saw a path to be able to get a puck on net. I wasn't really thinking I'd score on that shot but maybe you're shooting for a rebound, create some havoc. I just saw it go through his legs, hit the pad and stick in the inside of the net there."

This honor comes on the heels former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville being back in Chicago for the first time since the Blackhawks let him go in 2018. He was honored at the United Center on the same night at Kane’s pregame ceremony celebrating 1,000 points.

The Blackhawks went on to win two more Stanley Cups in the decade, but Kane’s goal was the one that started them all.

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Recapping Joel Quenneville's homecoming and a memorable night of celebration in Chicago

Recapping Joel Quenneville's homecoming and a memorable night of celebration in Chicago

There was a special buzz around the United Center on Tuesday. A different kind of atmosphere than usual. 

The Blackhawks had won five in a row and 11 of their past 15 to climb back into the Western Conference playoff race and have been playing, by far, their best hockey of the season over the last month. The Florida Panthers were also riding a five-game winning streak and had won 12 of their past 16 to move into a top 3 spot in the Atlantic Division.

This was a big matchup in the standings for both teams before the NHL All-Star break and bye week because they each have to sit on this result for nine straight days. That itself was enough for the intensity level to be heightened.

But Tuesday was ultimately a night of celebration in Chicago.

It marked the highly-anticipated return of Joel Quenneville, who was back at the United Center for the first time since being let go on Nov. 6, 2018. He arrived at the arena just after 4 p.m. with a handful of camera crews documenting his every move and had to be directed to the visiting coaches room after nearly forgetting where it was exactly located.

Quenneville caught up with just about everyone you can think of before making his way to the visiting NBA locker room because it was the only area large enough to fit all the media members for his pregame press conference. He spent a majority of the 15 minutes reminiscing about how special his 10-plus year tenure in Chicago was and did so with a huge smile on his face.

"It all brings back a special time in our lives and a special time with the city going through some amazing runs that are so memorable," Quenneville said. "So many people shared it and so many people played a hand in it and were responsible for it. Was very fortunate to have that type of career time here in Chicago and shared by a lot of people and feeling that today."

Before officially welcoming back Quenneville, the Blackhawks honored Patrick Kane with a special pregame ceremony after he became the 90th player in NHL history to record 1,000 points and fourth to do so in franchise history. It was a perfect way to kick off the night, and it set the bar high for the next ovation.

After the first TV timeout, the Blackhawks aired a 60-second video tribute for Quenneville that included some of his best bench reactions and celebrations from their playoff victories and three Stanley Cup runs. It was impossible to encapsulate what he's meant to the organization over a one-minute span, but the more important part was that Blackhawks fans finally got a chance to thank Quenneville for everything he did by giving him a deafening ovation that seemingly never ended.

"That felt unbelievable," Quenneville said. "It was a great feeling. Captured some special moments in the building when the enthusiasm and the excitement and the noise and Kaner’s starting the game off like that, and the building was rocking. It felt like a different game. Had some importance to it. It was special. It was kind of like saying thank you to me and I was thanking them, and it was all good. Felt great. That was certainly a memorable ovation I’m thankful for."

Seeing Quenneville behind the visiting bench was going to be strange for everyone. The fans, the media, the organization. And even the players.

"You just think things are going to stay the same forever and it’s weird when things change and guys go to other teams," Jonathan Toews said. "Coach Q just felt like a staple with this organization, this city as well."

In fitting fashion, the Blackhawks rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the second period by scoring three of the next four goals to make it an exciting finish. But it was the Panthers who prevailed on Q night.

To cap off the memorable evening, Quenneville addressed a large herd of reporters one final time before exiting the arena. But not before making his way to Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Toews and giving each of them hugs to show his love and appreciation for His Guys.

"When I left here, the bitterness that you think you might have leaving from here would have been prevalent," Quenneville said. "But I didn’t have any of that type of feeling. The memories were too special, and recapturing it here immediately, you can have the same sense of why it was like that. And show a lot of appreciation for everyone here. It’s a great place to play, special fans, fun building and great organization. So thanks."

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