With the momentum from their last two games working against them, the Blackhawks knew they had a tall order in front of them against the surging Carolina Hurricanes, but they probably didn’t know how tall it would be. It took regulation, overtime, a shootout and then an extra shooter, but the Hawks finally came away with the 3-2 victory on Kris Versteeg’s game-deciding shot.
“The other night was a pretty tough loss for us,” Versteeg said, “but we knew we had a lot of character in the room, so getting back out there and playing well tonight was good for us.”
Without two of their top goal scorers in Patrick Sharp
and Martin Havlat, both of whom are out with injuries, the Blackhawks played to their defensive strengths and solid goaltending from Cristobal Huet for the victory. After allowing a goal to Rod Brind’Amour five minutes into the first period, the Hawks held the Hurricanes scoreless until 19:33 of the third period. In between, the Hawks kept the pressure on Carolina by keeping the puck in the visitors’ zone.
“For the most part, we were getting pucks deep, and we did a good job of back-checking,” said Brent Seabrook
. “Sometimes, that little extra effort helped us out. Huey made the extra save to give us the game.”
Head coach Joel Quenneville, who had been critical of his team’s effort in Sunday’s loss to Colorado, said that he liked the jump that his team had throughout the game.
“I think both teams played hard,” he said. “Even though we were playing from behind a lot of the game I thought that we did some good things. It was very intense; that’s what we’re going to see until the end of the season. We did a lot of the things that we were hoping to do throughout the game.”
The players were in agreement that the home crowd once again played a big part in their intensity during the game.
“It was really energetic out there tonight,” said Versteeg. “We live off that; we’re playing in front of the best fans in the world and you have to give them something every night. If you don’t, you feel like you let them down.”
The win was critical for the Blackhawks, who had been losing ground to the fifth-place Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference standings. Heading into the game, the Hawks were five points ahead of the Canucks with one fewer game played.
“Every two points are important,” said Duncan Keith
. “There are still some games to be played, but we’ve got to take care of the home-ice advantage while we’re here.”
“It was big to get the win tonight,” said Seabrook. “We’re playing for fourth position and that’s what we’re aiming for right down.”