For more than 20 years, Ken Hitchcock and Joel Quenneville have been matching wits against each other as two of the most successful coaches in the NHL.

They battled from 1996-2002 while Quenneville was with St. Louis and Hitchcock was in Dallas.

During most of this decade, they went at it again when Hitchcock ran the Blues while Quenneville's Chicago Blackhawks were running roughshod over the Western Conference.

Now, Hitchcock is in Dallas, leading a team that appears well on its way to a playoff berth, while Quenneville's Hawks appear well on their way to making tee times for April 9.

Before Dallas defeated the Hawks 4-2 at the United Center on Thursday night, Hitchcock was asked if he can empathize -- even a little bit -- with Quenneville's plight.

"Empathize with Joel Quenneville?" said Hitchcock, who trails Quenneville in Stanley Cup titles 3-1. "He can give me his rings all he wants. I don't give a (darn). …

"He's had his day in the sun and he's a great coach. But you can't feel for anybody. … During competition, you're in your own group and you hope the other group fails like crazy."

Hitchcock got his wish as the flailing Hawks dropped their sixth straight at home and fell 8 points behind Minnesota for the second wild-card spot.

Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov scored for the Hawks, but Dallas' ability to cash in on two terrible turnovers was the difference in the game.

The first miscue came from Anthony Duclair, who lost control of the puck in the offensive zone. Seconds later, Tyler Seguin converted on an odd-man rush at 5:44 of the second period to tie the game at 1-1.

The other hiccup came by Duncan Keith when his weak dump-in attempt bounced off John Klingberg's foot as time wound down in the middle period. Klingberg immediately raced the other way and fed Tyler Pitlick, who unleased a laser that sailed over Anton Forsberg's left shoulder with just 4.5 seconds remaining.

Asked if Forsberg should have stopped the puck or there shouldn't have been a shot in the first place, coach Joel Quenneville simply said: "Both."

Said Brent Seabrook, who had 2 assists: "Little mistakes tend to cost us. We've got to be better at the blue lines, in our own zone and in the offensive zone managing pucks. …

"It starts with all the little things. … A lot of those little things add up to one big thing, which is a win at the end of the night."

While the Hawks (24-22-8) fell to 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, Hitchcock swears it wouldn't be difficult for them to turn things around.

If they could just win one game.

"Winning's a feeling," he said. "You get on the right side of the feeling, you can run 10-0 in this league. You get on the wrong side, and you feel like you're playing really good, but you're like .500.

"It's about getting on the right side."

Just ask the Boston Bruins. There's a team that was 15-10-4 on Dec. 14 and has gone a remarkable 18-1-4 since.

Could that happen to the Hawks? Could they rattle off a 22-6-0 stretch to end the season? Especially if Corey Crawford comes back soon, the power play wakes up and the teams' big names start producing?

Hitchcock says absolutely.

And it scares him half to death.

"I think all of us -- quite frankly -- we live in a little bit of fear of the Hawks because we know that they're capable of getting on a run," he said. "That's why to put more distance between them and us is going to be a good thing."

It's easy to talk that way -- and back it up -- when you're winning. We'll see soon enough if that swagger ever returns to the Blackhawks this season.

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