Hawks get big win with 4-3 OT victory over Canucks
Work like dogs.
Take nothing for granted.
Don't expect anything to be handed to you.
And the wins will keep coming.
That was coach Jeremy Colliton's message to the Blackhawks before they played their most important game of the season against the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on Thursday.
"I love dogs. So that's a good thing," Colliton said. "But the kind of dogs I like, they love to work and they want to be relentless.
"And we want our guys to pursue the puck, pressure and never give up. If we do that, then I think we have the players and we can get some results."
Those results have been coming for more than two weeks and they didn't stop Thursday as the Hawks persevered to beat Vancouver 4-3 in overtime to extend their winning streak to six games.
Jonathan Toews provided the game-winner when he turned on the jets, sliced around defenseman Christopher Tanev and wristed a shot past Jacob Markstrom with 1:39 remaining.
"I think maybe everyone else on the ice was as tired as I was," said Toews, who now has 24 goals. "I was just trying to make one last play without it being too dangerous and risking a turnover. But I was able to anticipate their D-man throwing his stick in there and was able to get a shot on net.
"It's nice to see those go in."
Alex DeBrincat had 2 goals, Brandon Saad also scored, Dylan Strome racked up 3 assists and Collin Delia turned away 40 shots for the Hawks (22-24-9), who are just 2 points out of the final wild-card spot. That spot is currently occupied by St. Louis, but six teams are within 4 points of the Blues and 6 of the Wild.
Vancouver (24-24-7) salvaged a point thanks to Elias Pettersson's power-play goal with just 1:52 remaining. It was Brendan Perlini's high-sticking penalty with 3:36 left that put the Canucks on the man advantage.
A few weeks ago Colliton went out of his way to praise his team's leadership core for keeping the mood light in practice and positive in the room, even in the midst of a pair of eight-game losing streaks. Toews echoed those thoughts Thursday morning, but he also kept things in perspective, knowing there's a long way to go.
"It's nice to see it turning into results right now," Toews said. "But we've got to keep working, keep pushing to get better because we know we're not even close to the ceiling yet."
So what is that ceiling this season?
Is it a playoff berth?
A first-round triumph?
"I don't know. But I agree -- we're not there yet," said Colliton, who not at all happy with the Hawks' second period against the Canucks. "There's many things we can do better. But I think that's every team.
"The teams that get to play when it's the most fun, they continue to improve as the year goes on. We've had a good stretch where we have taken some steps forward.
"Today was a step back, but in a way it wasn't because we won. Teams who get to move on, they find ways to do that.
"And that's a good sign."