The Blackhawks are more resilient this season. They showed it again against Devils.
No matter the sport, one true hallmark of successful teams is to believe you're going to win no matter what goes wrong.
• Opponent wipes out a 14-0 lead on the gridiron? No problem -- you'll get the next touchdown.
• Pitcher gives up a grand slam and a 6-2 lead is gone in a blink? That's OK -- the meat of your lineup is coming up and they'll bail you out.
• A 12-point lead on the hard court turns into a deficit in a matter of minutes? Somebody will start raining 3s and all will be fine.
It's this kind of resiliency that was completely lacking on the Blackhawks last season, especially during an eight-game losing streak in February that all but eliminated them from the playoff picture.
The Hawks actually jumped out to a lead in six of those contests, yet lost them all. Once the opponent came up with a momentum-changing score, you could sense it was over for the Hawks.
There was no fight. No pushback. No one stepping up to turn things around.
"Last year when we built up so many losses, guys (lost) confidence that the game's going to go the right way," said defenseman Connor Murphy before the Hawks erased a 2-0 deficit and beat New Jersey 5-2 at the United Center on Thursday. "As soon as it (started) to turn the wrong way, we didn't have as much of a push to get better."
That wasn't at all the case during the Hawks' seven-game winning streak, which ended with a 6-3 loss at Boston on Tuesday. Five times during that run, the Hawks won despite timely goals by their opponent.
"We all kind of learned from what we went through last year where teams could feel when they took the wind out of our sails," said Jonathan Toews, who snapped a 2-2 tie against the Devils with his 26th goal of the season at 13:12 of the second period. "We would just let up and fall apart in games, even if we were in the game for the majority of that night."
The best example of this newfound resiliency came against the defending-champion Capitals on Jan. 20. The Hawks took a 4-2 lead into the third period, but Washington's John Carlson scored to make it 4-3 at 3:09.
Instead of allowing the equalizer -- as they almost certainly would have done last season -- Patrick Kane scored on the power play 36 seconds later and Toews added another score to make it 6-3. The Capitals weren't done, though, and made it 6-5 on goals by Carlson and Matt Niskanen.
The Hawks once again gathered themselves and prevailed thanks to Toews making it 7-5 with 5:03 remaining, and Dylan Strome driving the final nail into the coffin with 1:49 left.
The Sabres, Canucks, Wild and Red Wings also battled back and put pressure on the Hawks -- Vancouver and Minnesota both tying things up with less than three minutes remaining -- but coach Jeremy Colliton's crew refocused and prevailed.
"This year seems to be more of that confidence that we're a better team and that we deserve to win those games," Murphy said.
Against New Jersey, Kane started the comeback with a late first-period goal and Drake Caggiula made it 2-2 just 20 seconds into the second period. After Toews gave the Hawks (24-25-9) the lead, Artem Anisimov made it 4-2 with 6:24 remaining and Brandon Saad scored short-handed with 4:45 left to complete the scoring.
The Hawks are now just 2 points behind Minnesota for the final wild-card spot in the West.
"You look at all teams down the line, it's so tight in this league," said Saad, who now has 300 career points. "But the good teams always believe and always battle back and always have that confidence.
"It took a little while, but it's definitely fun to play now."