By Connor McKnight-
(CBS) The Blackhawks are off the schneid. The four-game losing streak–longest of its kind in three years–is history.
Viktor Stalberg and his three goals (his first career hat trick) helped get the Blackhawks back on track with a 5-2 win over the Blue Jackets, Tuesday night.
First, no one’s popping champagne. The Blue Jackets are a terrible, terrible team who just fired their coach and are far from a measuring stick in the NHL. Still, the Hawks were assessed 42 minutes of penalty time and were on the kill for six of the first twenty. Finally, battling that kind of adversity meant something.
During the four-game skid, the Hawks had let too many typically momentum building occasions–be they stopped penalty shots, big PK’s, or even successful fights–go by the wayside. It seemed as though this team, notorious for its fast starts, had stopped noticing when it was supposed to pour it back on.
Hopefully, it’s re-learned some of what was working so well in the first month of the season.
While Viktor Stalberg paced the offense, it was nice to see his rewards come as a function of the top line. With Patrick Sharp out for three to four weeks, so-called secondary scorers like Stalberg need to become primary ones. That’s possible when Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane put together top-end shifts.
The Hawks play five out of their next seven at home and need all-hands on deck to help keep ship headed in the right direction.
That ship, meanwhile, nearly sunk early in the first period when Toews was hit in the head by a snapshot from Duncan Keith.
The puck first hit a Jackets’ defender, then plugged Toews in the helmet just above his left eyebrow, then clanged off the goalpost.
“It’s one of those thing,” Toews joked after the game. ” It hits me in the face and still doesn’t go in. I can’t get the bounces.”
By a very unofficial and non-medical count, Toews had 14 or 15 stitches split between two cuts above his left eyebrow. The swelling didn’t seem too bad. You know, considering he’d been pelted by frozen, vulcanized rubber at something like 70 mph about an hour earlier.
One way or another, he looks every bit the old-time hockey player.