Joel Quenneville may have found himself a new line combination in Bryan Bickell, Peter Regin and Jeremy Morin.
From Bickell providing a spark when he took offense to a hit on Regin and subsequently dropping the gloves with Jared Boll, to Morin scoring in the final minutes of the first period to slow the bleeding, to Regin swarming the net in the final desperate seconds before Ben Smith finally knocked in the game-winner, it was a line that was noticeable during the Hawks' 4-3 win on Friday.
"I liked the way they played," Quenneville said. "They all contributed, they all had speed and pace. They had traffic at the net, they were dangerous off the rush ... it was real nice combo.
"Sometimes you try things and they work. I thought they were a big factor."
Not much help:
The Blues certainly did the Blackhawks no favors by losing 4-0 to Colorado at home Saturday.
The victory pushed the Avalanche 3 points ahead of the Hawks in the race for home-ice advantage and suddenly only 5 back of St. Louis heading into the season's final stretch.
"We're not playing our best right now," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said after the loss.
Late in the game, Blues captain David Backes dropped the gloves against Avs rookie Nathan MacKinnon and took him to the ice, a move Colorado coach Patrick Roy wasn't too thrilled with.
"To me it's gutless," Roy told reporters. "It shows what kind of leader he is."
With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews out of the lineup, Ben Smith has sure done his part to pick up the slack lately.
He scored a goal in Thursday's win over Minnesota and then added the game-winner Friday in Columbus.
"We miss those guys big-time, it's pretty clear but guys are stepping up, guys are playing hard," said Smith who already has career highs in goals (12), assists (12) and points (24). "We're playing a simple game and that's helping us keep games close and pulling through at the end."
Lost in the shuffle of Friday's last-second 4-3 victory in Columbus was the play of defenseman Duncan Keith, who quietly had a big night with 3 assists and a plus-2 rating in just over 21 minutes of ice time.
Keith now ranks second among defensemen in points (60) and leads then all in assists (54). Overall, he ranks fourth in the NHL in assists.
What a relief:
Antti Raanta was all smiles after the Hawks' win over Columbus, and why not? It was the backup goalie's first victory since early January.
"It was nice to get the win and get you're confidence a little higher because it's been three months since the last win," said Raanta, who owns a 13-4-4 record in 23 appearances during his rookie NHL season. "That's really far away."