Blackhawks blank Ducks to win 4th straight

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Hagel (38) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Anaheim Ducks in the second period Saturday at the United Center.

    Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Hagel (38) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Anaheim Ducks in the second period Saturday at the United Center. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/15/2022 10:51 PM

Winning streaks have been hard to come by for the Blackhawks over the past few seasons.

The last five-gamer came two years ago.

 

You have to go back three years to find one longer than that -- a seven-gamer that moved the Hawks from 16-24-9 to 23-24-9.

It's next to impossible for teams to make the playoffs without going on at least a couple of runs, so it's no surprise coach Jeremy Colliton's squads reached the postseason just once -- and only because 24 teams qualified in 2020.

Well don't look now, but the Hawks finally seem to be heating up. Their fourth straight victory -- 3-0 over Anaheim at the United Center on Saturday -- came thanks to stellar goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury, a terrific goal-saving sweep by defenseman Jakub Galvas and tallies by Brandon Hagel, Patrick Kane and Dominik Kubalik.

The Hawks (15-18-5) prevailed despite again missing defensemen Seth Jones and Jake McCabe, and forwards Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome (COVID protocol). Connor Murphy, Calvin de Haan, Erik Gustafsson, Caleb Jones, Riley Stillman and Galvas continue to pick up the slack on the blue line.

Fleury made 37 saves in posting his third shutout of the season, Alex DeBrincat had 2 assists, Jonathan Toews had an assist and won 9 of 15 faceoffs, and de Haan had an assist, dished out 5 hits and blocked 4 shots.

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"Some of our star players (are) out and our guys stepped up," King said. "That's probably one of the best games we played for 60 minutes. Hey, we had hiccups and all that, but we stayed composed and we got the job done."

Kane (9 goals) scored in back-to-back games for just the second time this season.

"When Kaner gets going the way he's going, he's a special player," said Stillman, who ran his point streak to five with an assist on Hagel's goal. "He's unbelievable and when he gets hot, there's no way to stop him. So if he can keep going the way he's going, we can be a dangerous team in the second half."

Galvas' heads up play came after the puck slid through Fleury's legs and appeared destined for the back of the net. Just before it crossed the goal line, however, Galvas whipped the puck back into the defensive zone.

Fifteen seconds later, Gustafsson came out of the penalty box and found a charging Hagel, who buried a shot at 5:33 of the second period to open the scoring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kane's goal came on the power play at 4:22 of the third period, and Kubalik scored into an empty net at 16:39.

Now, while this run by the Hawks is nice, let's remember that 3 victories came against the extremely erratic Columbus Blue Jackets, the 7-24-5 Montreal Canadiens and an Anaheim squad playing on back-to-back nights and forced to insert a goalie into just his third NHL contest.

Perhaps the most shocking part of this hot streak is that it's happening just nine days after the Hawks held a closed-door meeting after a demoralizing loss in Arizona.

"The fact they acknowledged something had to be said or done about it, that's great," King said. "That means they're a team and supporting each other. Then to go on a little winning streak here is a bonus."

Said Kane: "Hopefully we're turning the corner here and becoming a really good team. The test to that will be the consistency night in, night out as we go along here.

"We've got a lot of games before the break, so it'd be nice to finish strong going into that."

The Hawks next play at Seattle on Monday before returning for a home game against Minnesota on Friday.

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