It definitely wasn’t the start the Blackhawks wanted, but the ending was legendary.
Down five goals after just 12 minutes of play, even the die-hard fans in attendance at the United Center Monday doubted that the Blackhawks could fight back and get a point, let alone a win. But six unanswered goals later, not only did Chicago walk away with two points, but also the biggest comeback win in team history.
“It wasn’t the way we wanted to play, but we improved,” said Brent Seabrook
, whose goal 26 seconds into overtime sealed the victory. “There is a lot of history in this storied franchise, and to be part of it now is very cool.”
“You have to give the guys around this room a lot of credit,” said Kris Versteeg. “It was 5-0 after five shifts in a row – that was pretty crazy. But we battled back and I thought we played really well for the rest of the game.”
As the contest started slipping away in the first period, the Hawks were desperate for any break they could get. Although calling a timeout and swapping goalies failed to stop the bleeding, a John Madden goal late in the first period seemed to turn the momentum in Chicago’s favor, however slightly. With three more tallies in the second, the Hawks soon had a victory in their sights.
“It was a dramatic turn,” said head coach Joel Quenneville. “It was tough watching us play and watching some of the goals against us go in, but scoring that first goal gave us a little bit of hope and something to get excited about.”
“Madden went out there and got the ball rolling,” Versteeg said. “After the third goal [scored by Dustin Byfuglien], we started to believe.”
Monday’s overtime win marks the Hawks’ second thrilling ending in as many games. On Saturday, Chicago and Colorado went into the ninth round of a shootout before the Hawks emerged victorious. The dramatic match-ups make for good theater, but it’s not the key to sustained success over the grueling 82-game NHL season.
“We find a way to make it entertaining,” said Madden. “I’m not sure that’s the way we want to keep playing this year because we’re not going to be able to do that every night.”
“We all contributed to that tough start,” Quenneville said. “They came out hard and we didn’t respond in kind. I liked how we battled and there were a lot of good things in the last 40 minutes, for sure. But I don’t think we want to set that trap for ourselves and hope to come back again.”
Along with the win in the standings, Monday also marked a moral victory for the Blackhawks; having been pushed to the brink and surviving, the Hawks can say that they’re never out of any game, no matter how dire the circumstances.
“Even when we were down, we had a lot of good opportunities,” Madden said. “If you just look around the room and know you can come back from 5-0, that gives you a lot of confidence.”
“We had a tough start to the night, but we battled back,” Seabrook said. “Guys were just rolling and having fun. We were playing Blackhawks hockey again and we felt like we could score five, six, seven goals. We have the guys in here and we know we can work our way back from anything.”