Blackhawks turn squeaker into 6-2 rout
After sneaking out of Dallas with a 3-2 shootout victory Thursday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville uttered those now immortal words:
"You better call the cops, because we just stole 2 points."
Well, after dominating Buffalo early on in their home opener Saturday night at the United Center, including jumping out to a 2-0 lead less than three minutes in, Quenneville couldn't have been blamed if he wanted to call in a detective to try to figure out just how in the world this one was tied at 2-2 through 40 minutes.
Fortunately, he didn't have to because, just like they did against the Stars, the Hawks found their mojo late and rolled to an easy 6-2 victory to improve to 2-0 on the season.
"Across the board we were 100 percent better than we were the other day," Quenneville said. "Today put us back on the right track."
It sure looked like this one was going to be a cakewalk when Andrew Shaw tipped Niklas Hjalmarsson's blast past Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth (41 saves) just 59 seconds in, and less than two minutes later Duncan Keith scored his second goal in as many games to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
But a funny thing happened: The young Sabres weren't intimidated, and when Tyler Ennis scored a short-handed goal at 18:40 of the first, it was all tied up and definitely game on.
"They're a fast, skilled team -- maybe more than people give them credit for," said Hawks goalie Corey Crawford, who turned away 21 of the 23 shots he faced.
"It was a fast-paced game, and we said between periods that we need to shut that down, not give them anything on the rush, and it almost turned out exactly that way in the third period."
Did it ever.
Hawks big guns Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and even Daniel Carcillo all lit the lamp in the third period to turn a confounding nail-biter into the laugher that this one should have been the whole time.
For Carcillo, who returned to the team late in the preseason mainly to provide grit and energy, getting a goal was completely unexpected.
"I mean I don't want to price myself out of the league, so I better slow down," Carcillo joked. "But I feel good. I'm healthy. I said it before when I was here, I feel very fortunate to be able to come back to a team like this."
The tide began to turn when Kane, who had his parents in attendance Saturday, broke a 2-2 tie early in the third when he took a perfect feed from Shaw and one-timed one past Enroth to officially open the floodgates.
"Today we were better prepared," said Hossa, who registered his 30th career short-handed goal. "And we just took over in the third."