Blackhawks keep pedal to the metal, win third in row
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com November 13, 2011 10:56PM
Bryan Bickell (29) battles the Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the puck during a 6-3 victory by the streaking Blackhawks at the United Center on Sunday night. | Charles Cherney~AP
Updated: December 15, 2011 10:07AM
Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador couldn’t resist cracking a joke at the expense of Patrick Kane when given the opportunity Sunday night. After all, the media was huddled around his locker-room stall and not Kane’s.
“I don’t know if I could ever look like that guy; I don’t look like Justin Bieber,” Montador chimed. “Obviously, he’s in a league all on his own. I was just trying to hold onto the puck like I did and get it around [Nikolai] Khabibulin.”
Montador played a key role in another big victory for the Hawks Sunday at the United Center. He was just describing his highlight-reel goal — when he flashed some Kane-like moves — in the Hawks’ 6-3 victory against the upstart Edmonton Oilers.
It just happened to be one of many highlights for the Hawks, who have won three in a row after losing three straight. With the annual circus trip on the horizon, things are starting to click for the Hawks, although the potential loss of defenseman Brent Seabrook to a leg injury looms large.
“It shows some character and some strength we have in this dressing room that we can home and bear down when we need to,” Montador said. “It’s a good setting to go on the road.”
Montador and Jonathan Toews each scored two goals, while Duncan Keith added a goal and an assist against the Oilers. Nick Leddy, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane all had two assists, and Daniel Carcillo capped the victory with an empty-net goal.
You could call the victory against the Oilers a better win than their last two against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames, too. Although they’ve struggled recently, the Oilers have been one of the NHL’s biggest surprises, coming into the United Center with the third-most points in the West.
All those top draft-picks appear to be paying off as they’ve become one of the league’s fastest teams, while benefiting from Khabibulin’s strong play in goal. But the Hawks jumped on them early as Toews and Montador beat Khabibulin (29 saves) 34 seconds apart in the first.
“[Khabibulin] is one of those goaltenders if he stops a couple big ones early he can get hot, and kind of steal a game from you,” Toews said. “We didn’t want that to happen, and we stayed on him.”
The Hawks have good trends developing. They have tallied power-play goals in three consecutive games, and their defense continues to produce, combining for 16 points in the last three games, including six on Sunday.
Every time the Oilers threatened — whether it was Ryan Smyth cutting it to 2-1 or Jordan Eberle breaking loose for a score on Corey Crawford (20 saves) after a turnover — the Hawks had a response.
“We’re not letting off the gas pedal, so to speak,” Toews said. “We’ve got to keep going that way.”