Blackhawks’ offense leads way in 5-3 win; NHL record streak now 23
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org March 5, 2013 10:12PM
Updated: March 6, 2013 9:29PM
That Marian Hossa scored on the night he was honored for passing the 1,000-game mark for his career was fitting, memorable, and not the least bit surprising. After all, that’s what he’s here for.
That checking-line winger Bryan Bickell got a couple of goals himself, and that 20-year-old rookie Brandon Saad had three points in the first period alone was telling, eye-opening, and indicative of just why the Blackhawks have re-written the record book and caught the nation’s attention.
The Hawks beat the Minnesota Wild — one of three teams to have sent them off the ice with a “loss” in a shootout earlier this season — 5-3 on Tuesday night, extending their NHL-record season-opening point streak to 23 games, and stretching their actual win streak to a franchise-record 10.
And echoing the theme of this remarkable season — which hits the halfway point Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche — the contributions came from all over the depth chart.
“I’m running out of words to say here,” said captain Jonathan Toews. “I don’t know how many ways I can describe this.”
The Hawks actually fell behind 1-0 on Devin Setoguchi’s rebound goal at 8:22. But all that wound up doing was improving the Hawks’ record to 10-0-3 when the opponent scores first, as the Hawks responded with four goals in 5 minutes, 43 seconds to run Niklas Backstrom out of the net and nearly run the Wild out of the United Center.
Saad sparked it, capping a lengthy stretch of Hawks pressure by chipping in a rebound on the doorstep for his fourth goal at 13:02. He added two assists in the next five minutes.
“Cause he’s the man-child; that’s what we call him,” said Toews, who assisted on Saad’s goal. “He’s an absolute beast out there. He’s so strong, fearless.”
Just 44 seconds later, Bickell — who spoke earlier Tuesday about needing to take advantage of his underrated, heavy shot — ripped a shot past Backstrom for his fourth goal of the season. His checking-line cohorts, Viktor Stalberg and Shaw, had the assists on the goal. It marked the sixth time in the last seven games that that
trio has come up with a goal, taking pressure — and minutes — off of the top-line guys.
Less than four minutes later, shortly after a Hawks power play ended, Bickell roofed a beauty of a wrist shot over Backstrom for his fifth goal of the season. It was the second two-goal game of his career, the other coming last April 14 in Phoenix.
“We have great depth, we can’t just rely on our first two lines to score every night,” Bickell said. “It was nice to get the two goals at home.”
Then, as if the building weren’t rocking enough, the man of the hour — Hossa, who played his 1,000th game on Sunday in Detroit — scored 93 seconds later to make it 4-1 Hawks.
Hossa, playing his his 226th game with the Hawks, was honored before the game in a series of tributes. All the Hawks wore No. 81 sweaters during pregame warmups. There were also a number of video tributes shown, and team president John McDonough — who called the milestone an “awe-inspiring accomplishment” — presented Hossa with a framed painting of Hossa hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2010. Hossa said it took him a shift or two to get his mind back in the game after the ceremony, but he was clearly moved.
“It definitely was a special night for me, for my family,” he said. “It was amazing to have my wife and daughter right there with me for the ceremony. [And] that was nice, on a special night like this, to put myself on the board. Special moment.”
After a sleepy second period, the Wild did their best to crash the party, as both Ryan Suter and Kyle Brodziak got the puck past Corey Crawford (11-0-3) to cut the lead to 4-3 in the third period. But Patrick Kane gave the Hawks some breathing room, firing in a Patrick Sharp rebound for his 12th goal of the year with 8:27 left.
With all the talk of the point streak, most of the Hawks were unaware they had just set a franchise mark for an actual win streak.
“We’re having fun here,” Bickell said. “You can ask anybody, it’s been a fun experience. Hopefully we can keep this going.”