Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks began their four-game tilt with the Edmonton Oilers with a win, only to be handed three losses after that. Two of those losses were incredibly painful to remember: one would be Sam Gagner’s eight-point showcase, while the other was a nine-goal disaster that ruined Patrick Kane’s 23rd birthday. The Blackhawks desperately needed to shake those memories and turn their luck around against the Oilers.
Exorcising those nightmares began after Jeff Petry slipped the puck past a sprawled Ray Emery, who thought he was covering it, for a shorthanded goal. Mere moments later, Kane sent the puck to the net with a backhanded wrister that came on the continuing power play. His call for the crowd to get up was also a battle cry for his team, but it certainly wasn’t answered in the second period when Brandon Saad picked up his second penalty of the game. The ensuing power play gave Nail Yakupov the chance to score a one-timer from the circle and put the Blackhawks’ record-setting streak in serious jeopardy.
Viktor Stalberg was the one to finally answer early in the third period with a five-hole shovel from Michal Rozsival that slipped under Nikolai Khabibulin‘s pads and had to be reviewed. Once Toronto deemed the goal good, it was a matter of trying to score another goal, which Stalberg tried to do on a 2-on-1 but was stopped by Khabibulin. The game then went into overtime, ensuring the streak was still alive.
With only a minute and a half spent in overtime, Patrick Sharp hurried to the net and tried his best to chip the puck past Khabibulin. He rebounded his own shot and passed it to Marian Hossa, who put it past Khabibulin to win the game in front of the United Center crowd. Just like that, the repetitive echo of Rexall Place’s goal horn was silenced, and that eight-point night faded into the past. The demons of last season that had haunted the Blackhawks were gone.
The Blackhawks are only looking to the next game, taking them one at a time. With each win, the bad memories of last season are falling away behind them. The length of the streak is up to them, and they’re ready to keep it going.