After the Blackhawks' latest conquest, general manager Dale Tallon had a question: "When was the last time we won nine in a row?"
That would be never. Until Sunday night, that is.The red-hot Hawks continued a historic run as they dispatched the Minnesota Wild 4-1 for their franchise-record ninth consecutive victory.
Dustin Byfuglien scored two goals and added two assists, Kris Versteeg had a goal and two assists and Martin Havlat scored as the Hawks extended a couple of other streaks. They won their season-high fifth straight on the road, and they have now recorded points in 11 consecutive games (10-0-1). They have improved to 9-5-3 away from home and 20-6-7 overall.
"It's great to see the guys making great plays and hanging on to the puck and scoring some goals," said goaltender Cristobal Huet, who made 18 saves and won his fifth consecutive start. "We did everything right. Nine in a row ... it doesn't happen too often."
It had never happened in the 82-year history of the Blackhawks, and it left the crowd of 18,568 at the Xcel Energy Center booing the home team after each period.
"That was a big win for us," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's a special achievement for the whole group. They should be proud.
"We had a real good effort across the board. All aspects and areas of our game were solid."
Byfgulien got the Hawks on the board with a goal after a scramble in front of Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, then 21/2 minutes later tipped in a Duncan Keith shot on the power play.
Havlat made it 3-0 in the second after taking a pass from Brian Campbell and beating Backstrom from between the circles. After the Wild's Cal Clutterbuck scored early in the third to cut the lead to 3-1, Huet and the defense shut down Minnesota.
"We kind of feel like the Boston Celtics almost -- I'm kidding," said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, who had two assists -- though the Hawks are almost halfway to the Celtics' recently ended 19-game winning streak.
"There's a sense of calmness," Toews said. "I think any other team would be really excited to be in this situation. Sometimes when you have that momentum you get a little too excited, and you go into a third period like we did with a three-goal lead and kind of let up. We knew they were going to come out hard, and we have that comfort and calmness to us where we go into every game like we can win and come out with the two points."
Versteeg's empty-net goal capped the scoring for the Hawks, who have outscored opponents 40-12 during the winning streak.
"We're going to have to give them credit," Wild leading scorer Mikko Koivu said. "Nine wins in a row show something about the team, but they are not that good. They outworked us [Sunday night], that is obvious."
The Hawks will look to keep their winning streak going as they head to Detroit to face the Central Division-leading Red Wings on Tuesday night. It will be the Hawks' final game of December, during which they have lost just once -- in a shootout to the Wings on Dec. 6.
BLACKHAWKS 4, WILD 1
9 just fine for Hawks
Win sets franchise mark for consecutive victories; 5th straight road triumph
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