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Article updated: 1/23/2013 7:41 PM

Blackhawks clicking on all cylinders

By Tim Sassone

As difficult as it is to believe, before this shortened season the Blackhawks had not won their first three games since 1972-73.

That's the reality of the situation.

These Hawks have been impressive in beating the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and division winners Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. They will go for their fourth straight win Thursday night at Dallas, something that hasn't happened since that same 1972-73 season.

"It's early," winger Patrick Kane said. "I think every team is going to get a little better, including us. We know we can only go up from here and keep getting better.

"It's a good start, but you can't think about it too much. One of the things about this season is you're playing so many games in a short time it's almost like you win one and it's time to think about the next one.

"If you keep doing that you're going to have a good recipe for success."

Special teams have been outstanding for the Hawks.

The power-play goal they scored in Tuesday's 3-2 victory over St. Louis was their third of the season (they're 3-for-13), while they have allowed just 1 power-play goal in 10 short-handed situations.

"I think it just goes with our 5-on-5 game," captain Jonathan Toews said. "The work ethic is there. We're not just relying on a handful of guys and putting all the pressure on them.

"Everyone who goes out there knows they can accept that responsibility and fill whatever role they have to. It really brings up our team game up a notch."

The Hawks have beefed up their team defensive game … and it shows.

"We're playing smart team hockey and paying attention to detail," Toews said. "We're all moving our feet and not getting caught watching the play. As a five-man unit we're really helping each other out well.

"When you're complementing each other like that and you have four lines clicking, you're going to beat some good teams, and we are."

In this shortened season, the Hawks have started the way they believed they had to start.

"You can play some good hockey early on and not find a way to win, but we've done that," Toews said. "It's something we have to realize why we're winning these games.

"It's a commitment to checking and playing smart defensive hockey, helping our goaltender. We're going to get a lot of offensive chances off of that."

The 3-0 start has pleased Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, who remains cautious.

"It's something we stressed," he said. "We were very happy with the way things began, especially when you start off with the defending Cup team's building.

"We've had a lot of tough opponents right out of the gate, but I like the focus of our team right off the bat and the contributions we're getting from a lot of guys.

"It's a positive start and we're happy, but let's keep trying to get better."

Quenneville likes the pace at which his team is playing.

"I thought we had great pace to start the game and some quality rush chances," he said after Tuesday's victory over the Blues. "Several were high quality, and our transition game was good early."

ŸFollow Tim's Blackhawks and hockey reports on Twitter@TimSassone, and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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