The NHL season isn't even two weeks old, but it would be hard to find a better early candidate for the Hart Trophy as league MVP than Marian Hossa.
It was Hossa rescuing the Blackhawks late in the third period Monday night at the United Center with 2 goals 2:31 apart to wipe out a 2-0 lead by the St. Louis Blues.
Contact information ( * required )
The Hawks won the game 3-2 in overtime on Patrick Sharp's goal with 1:10 to play in the extra period.
Hossa leads the NHL in points with 11 and goals with 7.
"So far I'm feeling good and the puck is going in for me, Hossa said. "I had a good start when I was younger, but this is good start.
"Playing with great teammates makes it easier.
Hossa scored on power play with 6:48 to play, then tied the game with 4:17 left when he dug the puck out of a scramble and tucked a backhander under Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak.
"He's been playing at a great level for us and I thought he was instrumental in us getting back into the game, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It turned out to be a huge 2 points for us.
The Hawks were back on their heels for much of the overtime until defenseman Jassen Cullimore made a nice rush down the left side and behind the net. He passed to Patrick Kane, who drew three Blues defenders his way to the right of the net before sliding a perfect pass across to Sharp.
Sharp didn't miss the open net for his fifth goal in three games and third straight game-winner.
"It was a great play by Cullimore, and Kaner and I have done that a few times, Sharp said. "It was frustrating earlier but very encouraging in the way we fought back.
The broke open a defensive battle at 8:57 of the second period when David Perron scored the first of his 2 goals. Perron's short tuck shot from the left side somehow found its way under the pad of Hawks goalie Marty Turco.
While Turco couldn't stop that one he stoned Perron on a breakaway moments later.
Halak and the Blues' defense frustrated the Hawks for two periods. Perron's second goal at 9:28 of the third put the Hawks in a big hole.
"We didn't have much in the first two periods of the game because they were back five guys and we ended up in the neutral zone because that's all they would give us, Hossa said. "In the third period we started playing more simple, more grinding hockey.
"We never quit, which is nice, but it's hard coming back from behind all the games.
Turco finished 32 saves and made several big stops down the stretch and in overtime.
"It was pretty exciting, to say the least, he said. "The best part is how we responded after they got their second goal and just kept applying pressure.
"That's a great sign for our team. We know we can play better and there are things we can do differently, but at the end of the day it's an inner confidence and a belief and responding in the right way, and tonight was a good example of that.
The Hawks' three-game winning streak put them in sole possession of first place in the Central Division.