03/28/2009 12:04 AM
- From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
After besting the West’s top team on Wednesday, the Blackhawks returned to action Friday night and defeated the Eastern Conference’s hottest team, overcoming the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in overtime. Not only did the Hawks avenge their 3-2 loss to New Jersey from 10 days ago, but it seems now that the five-game losing streak that plagued them earlier this month is in the rear-view mirror.
“I don’t think we really looked at it as a slump because we were still playing well,” said Kris Versteeg
. “When you run into hot goaltenders, that’s going to happen. We’re playing the same way that we did when we were losing; we were getting pucks to the net then, too, but now they’re deciding to go in.”
Though the effort hasn’t changed, the results – especially early in games – have been decidedly better for the Hawks lately. During their five-game winless streak, the team scored only four first-period goals and never held a lead for more than 2:29. The Hawks have scored first in each game of their current three-game winning streak.
“Our starts have been a little better lately,” said Brent Seabrook
. “We’re working harder and playing from the drop of the puck right through the end; it’s a big thing that we have to focus on for the rest of the year. We’re working hard and playing a real team game right now.”
“We kept hanging in there,” said head coach Joel Quenneville. “I think we’ve recaptured a lot of the confidence in ourselves and our team game. Towards the end of that stretch, we were still doing some good things and I think that first win certainly helped us. We have more patience now and more confidence around our net. [Nikolai Khabibulin
] is also getting better, so we’re very pleased.”
The Hawks have regained their confidence at just the right time; the next stretch of games is as crucial as the past few, beginning with fifth-seed Vancouver’s visit to the United Center this Sunday.
“We need these points; every one is valuable from now until the end of the season,” said Seabrook, who was busy watching the score of the Canucks' game against Colorado even during his post-game interview. “We’ve got to keep bearing down and everything will fall into place.”