Blackhawks tie franchise record with 11th straight win over Canadiens


Blackhawks tie franchise record with 11th straight win over Canadiens

Winning games in bunches: you need a lot to go right to go on a substantial winning streak.

For the Blackhawks right now, just about everything is going right.

Jonathan Toews had two goals and an assist and Marian Hossa had a goal and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have now won 11 consecutive games to tie the franchise-best streak they set Feb. 17-March 6, 2013.

The Blackhawks now lead the Central Division with 66 points, three ahead of second-place Dallas and seven ahead of third-place St. Louis.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Corey Crawford stopped 27 of 29 shots for his eighth consecutive victory. That ties his career best, previously set from Feb. 20-March 5, 2011. Richard Panik scored his first goal for the Blackhawks and Patrick Kane scored his 29th of the season. Kane is just one shy of tying his career high in goals, set during the 2009-10 season.

The Blackhawks started this winning streak with two high-scoring victories. They’re now settling into a pattern of scoring plenty – and it’s coming from everyone and not just the second line – but allowing very little defensively. The Blackhawks have given up four goals in their last three games.

“I think the balance is the one thing that sticks out, consistency and getting contributions across the board. We’re solid in net, solid on the blue line and much more predictable up front,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Every night, someone else could score. Richard’s score tonight started it. The power play comes up with the big goal. Every night’s a little different but we’re playing responsible, playing the score, playing the time and we’ve got some momentum.”

The Blackhawks have also scored first in a lot of these games. That was true again on Sunday when Panik gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 2:40 into the game. Erik Gustafsson, who missed the last two games with a right-knee injury, had the great pass to Panik for his eighth assist of theseason. Lars Eller tied it for Montreal but Toews’ two goals in the second period gave the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.

[MORE: Will Bryan Bickell get a fresh start elsewhere?]

“We’ve improved how we play defensively; everybody’s committed,” Hossa said. “Everyone from the core knows how to win the defensive game from the championships and we have a lot of offense. The second line carried us offensively most of the year but it’s nice that other lines are scoring too, now, and that definitely helps.”

That offense continued in the third period. Montreal’s Max Pacioretty scored a power-play goal to get the Canadiens within one but Kane scored just 71 seconds later to restore the Blackhawks’ two-goal lead. Hossa, who got a stick on Duncan Keith’s long pass with 24 seconds remaining in regulation, got the empty-net goal.

Some of the Blackhawks felt it was just a matter of time before things started clicking with lines and with their game overall. A lot has to go right to go on a lengthy winning streak. Right now, a lot is.

“It’s nice; I mean, it's fun. We need to recognize that when things are clicking, you need to keep pushing and keep building your game and not get too comfortable, and I think we're doing a good job of that right now,” Toews said. “You look back to the last half dozen games, there hasn't been a whole lot of signs of satisfaction with our effort. So we're having fun and we're riding it out right now. I don't think we're playing out of our minds and getting too overconfident. We're just working hard and things are going our way.”




Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut


Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Return of the Crow

The Blackhawks got their man back between the pipes after a 10-month layoff due to a concussion. And he looked like same old "Crow."

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 shots for a save percentage of .900. He faced 12 shots and eight scoring chances in the first period, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The biggest save he made was on a Michael Grabner breakaway in the third period, bailing out a turnover in the neutral zone.

"I think I felt better in the second and third," Crawford said. "But they really didn’t get that many opportunities early. It was nice. I think they flipped one in for the first one, so that was kind of good just to get in it and feel one early. We were close in that one all game and we created a lot. I thought [Antti] Raanta played really well.

"It was a tough, tough break at the end. Still felt I should have stopped that one. We were right there, we were creating a lot and gotta try to come up with that one. Just gotta forget about it and worry about the next game."

2. Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews extend point streaks

The hot start continues for the Blackhawks' two leading scorers, both of whom assisted on Erik Gustafsson's goal in the second period to stretch their point streaks to six games. DeBrincat and Toews each have 10 points this season.

3. Overtime streak ends

The Blackhawks made history by forcing five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team has ever done in the four major sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). But they didn't have the comeback magic in them this time.

Entering Thursday, the Blackhawks were 1-0-1 when trailing after two periods. They were 5-28-2 last season for a win percentage of .143.

4. Familiar faces, new places

Five former Blackhawks took the ice for the Coyotes: Vinnie Hinostroza, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Oesterle, Richard Panik and Antti Raanta.

It was Hjalmarsson's first trip back to Chicago since being traded in the 2017 offseason. He received a nice video tribute during the second TV timeout of the first period, which made him very emotional.

"I almost got emotional too seeing his reaction," Toews said. "He's one of those guys you'll never forget what he meant to this locker room. He was a quiet guy in the room but we all know how he played and put everyone else before himself. Pretty cool reaction from the fans too. I think we were all sad to see him leave this locker room, he did a lot of special things and was a massive part of our championship wins. Happy for him to get that reception. It's well-deserved and obviously we miss having him around."

As far as the game, Hjalmarsson logged a team-high 22:18 of ice time and blocked three shots. Oesterle registered a secondary assist on Arizona's first goal, which was its first 5-on-5 of the season.

Hinostroza, who was also part of the Marian Hossa trade over the summer, scored twice in his return to his hometown, beating Crawford with a wrist shot to make it 2-1 in the second period and an empty-netter in the third; his second goal turned out to be the game winner, the fourth of his career and first as a member of the Coyotes.

Panik recorded four shot attempts (three on goal). And Raanta improved to 16-0-3 in his career at the United Center, a remarkable record for any goaltender in any situation.