The Chicago Blackhawks stretched their record National Hockey League season-opening point streak to 24 games Wednesday with a 3-2 home victory over Colorado that was not decided until the final seconds.
Chicago left wing Dan Carcillo netted the game winner on a backhand shot with 49.3 seconds remaining, scoring his first NHL goal in 478 days to become the 13th Blackhawk with a game-winning goal in the historic streak.
“Every night a new guy has stepped up and contributed to keep this thing alive,” Blackhawks scoring leader Patrick Kane said. “Another gutsy effort. We’re enjoying it. It’s not like we’re looking ahead. We’re taking it game by game.”
The Blackhawks, who stretched their club-record win streak to 11 games, have an overall mark of 21-0 with three over-time losses, each worth a single point, during the unprecedented streak.
Chicago has claimed only three points under the maximum possible after half a season in a campaign that has been shortened to 48 games per club due to a lockout caused by money dispute bewteen players and club owners.
Dating to last season, the Blackhawks have not been beaten in regulation time over 30 games, going 24-0-6 in that 347-day span.
That’s five games shy of matching the overall NHL record point streak established by the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers. If the Blackhawks continue their winning ways, they will have a chance to match the Flyers on March 18 at Colorado and potentially break the record two nights later at Anaheim.
“There’s no pressure,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said.
“If it keeps going, it keeps going, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. The big thing is we’re still playing hard. It’s a lot of fun for sure.”
But, Toews stressed, chasing history is no substitute for winning the Stanley Cup by capturing the playoff crown no matter how long the streak goes.
“It only means something if we keep this going and let it turn into something more special later in the season,” Toews said. Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery became the first netminder to begin an NHL season 10-0 by making 20 saves against the Avalanche on Wednesday, including seven in the third period, which began with Colorado leading 2-1.
“We were confident we could find a way to win this game in the third period and we did,” Toews said.
Trailing for only the fourth time in the streak after two periods, Chicago equalized only 2:19 into the third period when Toews skated around a defender and across the front of the crease to tuck in the puck past Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov for a short-handed goal.
That set the stage for Carcillo’s late winner, which stretched Colorado’s winless road streak to seven games.
“It was a little scrambley there but once we got skating at the end of the third period and got that goal, we were taking it to them,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith.
“We know we have to get better and there are things we have to get better at but everybody is focused on their own jobs.”
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