There have been a lot of positives during the Blackhawks’ unbeaten streak.
First, getting points in 10 games is always a bonus. As coach Joel Quenneville always says (in various forms), any points you get early in the season saves you from desperately chasing to get them at the end.
At the same time, the word, “fortunate,” has come up a few times regarding these victories. It probably could’ve been uttered again on Friday night.
Marian Hossa scored with 22.3 seconds remaining in regulation but Marcus Johansson scored in overtime as the Washington Capitals beat the Blackhawks 3-2. The Blackhawks’ seven-game winning streak ended but their unbeaten streak did not. They haven’t lost a game in regulation since Oct. 21 (against the Columbus Blue Jackets).
Brian Campbell scored a power-play goal for the Blackhawks and Jay Beagle scored twice for the Capitals. World Cup teammates Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford both had solid outings; Holtby stopped 32 of 34 in the victory and Crawford stopped 25 of 28 in the loss.
It was another game in which the Blackhawks eked out a point with some late-game work.
“We’ve been in this stretch for a while now and we’ve been extremely fortunate a lot of nights. But with the goalie out [empty net late in the third period], coming back that late, you’ve gotta get some breaks and we’ve been getting a lot of breaks in a lot of ways,”
Quenneville said. “We’ve scored some timely goals this year that have put us in the spot we’re in right now. We can be better in ways, but we’ll take it.”
Missing Artem Anisimov, the Blackhawks had to make more line changes again. Some worked pretty well – Marcus Kruger, Hossa and Artemi Panarin made up the Blackhawks’ best line of the night. The top line, however, struggled to get something going. Hossa, who’s been sizzling lately, had the game-tying goal off Panarin’s rebound to force overtime.
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Hey, a point is a point.
“Well, obviously good considering we were losing with a couple seconds left in the game. So we got at least the one point. But I think it’s one of those games, we have to be better because those guys play extremely well in the neutral zone, they’re waiting for you,” Hossa said. “We tried to beat them individually and they were just waiting for turnovers. Sometimes we have to play the ugly hockey and just chip and support.”
Great goaltending and fantastic finishes have been reasons for a bulk of these points lately. The Blackhawks will take those critical points. They’d just like to have more all-around games, more convincing performances with them.
“At that point it would be nice to find a way,” Toews said. “When you come up short you’re always going to look at the things you didn’t do. I think the start getting behind against a team like that, the way they play defensively. You can’t continue to rely on scoring goals late in the game like that. We just have to focus on trying to play ahead of a team like that.”