Blackhawks beat Flames for Joel Quenneville’s 600th victory
By Adam L. Jahns email@example.com December 18, 2011 9:05PM
Updated: January 20, 2012 8:20AM
Coach Joel Quenneville would prefer not to command the spotlight like he did after the Blackhawks’ 4-2 victory Sunday against the Calgary Flames at the United Center.
He’s usually one of the first in the Hawks’ locker room after victories, but he was still on the bench, congratulating every player as they came off.
They had just given him his 600th career victory, and the organization made sure to honor him for his accomplishment after the Hawks won their fifth game in a row to surpass the Minnesota Wild for the most points in the NHL with 46.
“They all feel good,” said Quenne-ville, who was handed the game puck by Jonathan Toews. “There is nothing better than winning. I thought we did some good things, for the most part. [There were] some penalty problems there at the end of the game.
“But I’ve been with some good teams, some great organizations, some great players and coaches. I’ve been fortunate in a lot of ways, and I’m in a great spot here, very content. I’ve got a nice team to work with.”
No. 600 had its good and ugly moments. Quenneville’s “nice team” suffered a big loss when defenseman Brent Seabrook left the game in the first period after getting boarded head-first into the glass by Flames winger Rene Bourque, who was ejected.
The loss of Seabrook — who, by all accounts, seemed better after the game — stands out in an outing that had all the makings of an all-around solid game by the Hawks through the first two periods. The Hawks’ victory had a lot of the characteristics that Quenneville preaches about on a daily basis.
The Hawks checked well, holding the Flames to three shots in the first period and 11 in the first 40 minutes. It also was fitting that the Hawks’ defense was active offensively and productive on a big night for Quenneville, a former blue-liner.
Defensemen Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson scored for the Hawks, who took a 3-0 lead into the third. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa (5-on-3) scored on the power play, and Patrick Sharp extended his career-best point streak to nine games, the longest active streak in the NHL.
“We’re doing all the small things really good,” Hjalmarsson said. “We’re getting pucks deep, the forwards backchecked really hard and the [defense] got the puck out of our own zone.”
The game took a confrontational turn in the third as Calgary got physical. Cory Sarich landed a high hit on Bryan Bickell, and Blake Comeau did the same on Hjalmarsson. Bickell went after Sarich and ended up in the penalty box for 17 minutes.
Overall, the Hawks got into penalty trouble in the third, opening the door for the Flames to score two power-play goals, which ended their successful penalty-killing streak at 21 in a row.
Nevertheless, the Hawks were happy to deliver a special victory for Quenneville, who became the second-fastest coach to reach 600 wins in league history (1,114 games), trailing only Scotty Bowman (1,002).
“Coming in here, he really seemed to settle things down for our team, a young team,” said defenseman Duncan Keith, who had an assist. “He gave us experience and leadership and capped it off with a [Stanley] Cup. Six hundred wins is a lot of wins. It’s pretty impressive. I don’t think it’s a coincidence when you get that many wins.”