Jonathan Toews called it the little streak within a streak.
The Blackhawks set a franchise record Tuesday night with their 10th straight win, beating Minnesota 5-3 at the United Center. But it was overshadowed by something even bigger.
With the victory, the Hawks extended their record point streak to start the season to 23 games.
It was the 29th straight game without a regulation loss for the Hawks dating to last season, which puts them all alone in second place on the NHL’s all-time list behind the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers, who went 35 games without a loss.
Bryan Bickell scored 2 goals and Brandon Saad had a goal and 2 assists in the win.
“I guess that’s the little streak within the streak,” Toews said. “There are a lot of different storylines people can talk about, but mainly we’re sticking to what works as a team.”
“It’s been a fun start to our season,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “The guys have been approaching each and every game as a new challenge.”
The Hawks (20-0-3) keep getting contributions from every corner of the roster. Bickell’s goals were his fourth and fifth of the season as the third line stayed red hot. Viktor Stalberg got the key assist on Bickell’s first goal with a hustle play.
“We have great depth on our team. We just can’t rely on our first two lines to score every night,” Bickell said.
“You can probably talk about each and every player on our team and spend a couple minutes saying how good they’ve been this year and how they have contributed to our team,” Quenneville said.
The Wild scored the game’s first goal when Devin Setoguchi poked in a rebound past Corey Crawford, but from there it was all Hawks.
Saad tied it at 13:02 with Bickell scoring just 44 seconds later. Bickell made it 3-1 at 17:12 with an assist from Saad before Marian Hossa closed out the first period with his 10th goal from Saad at 18:45.
“He was unbelievable,” Toews said of Saad. “He was flying. He’s getting more and more confident and is fearless. He goes into traffic and just comes away with the puck every time.
“It’s amazing to see a young kid like that with that confidence and that strength. It was a huge night for him when you’re a part of three plays when the puck goes in.”
Toews had 2 assists to go with Hossa’s goal, and in the third period Patrick Kane got his 12th goal after the Wild had shaved the Hawks’ lead to 4-3.
“Coming off maybe a couple of so-so years here, trying to get back to where we were a couple of years ago is a challenge,” Quenneville said. “These (core) guys have been leading the charge game in and game out. Our top players have been our best players.”
This is the best stretch for any Hawks team since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. That team had to be dismantled because of salary-cap problems, but general manager Stan Bowman did his best to keep what he felt was the core of the team intact.
“We had to change half our personnel after winning the Cup,” Quenneville said. “I think we’ve evolved a little bit learning about some of the new players that have come in.
“I think expectations might have been high trying to get back to that elite level. It is something we’ve been pushing, and maybe we’re making some inroads.”
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