Game winner long time coming for Carcillo

CHICAGO -- Any first goal this season would have set Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo's emotions off like a firecracker.

But after suffering a season-ending knee injury last season and enduring another monthlong injury this season, his long-awaited first goal this season set him off more like a skyrocket on Wednesday.

With the game tied 2-2 against the Colorado Avalanche in the third period on Wednesday, Carcillo backhanded a rebound from a few feet in front of the net and slid it past Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov with 49.3 seconds remaining. The goal gave the Blackhawks their 11th consecutive win and extended their points streak to 24 games to start the season.

Carcillo wasn't sure he had scored until he saw referee Marc Joannette point into the net. Then, he lost himself and allowed his emotions to take over. He skated away from the net, fell to his knee and was swarmed by his teammates in celebration as the United Center roared.

"[I was] happy; it's like a big rainbow in my head," Carcillo said. "Ah, [I] couldn't even skate. Had to drop to my knees."

Carcillo's elation was something he had bottled up for nearly a year and a half. His last goal came against the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 13, 2011. He later suffered his season-ending injury against the Oilers on Jan. 2, 2012.

Carcillo missed the remainder of the 2011-12 season and returned for this season's opener. During that first game back, he injured himself again and missed another month.

Wednesday was Carcillo's eighth game back from his latest injury.

"It seems like forever," Carcillo said of the time between his two most recent goals. "It's like a big weight off my shoulders. I want to be more than just an enforcer on this team. Just to be able to step in with some key players [Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw] who went down and help the team any way I can, in this particular situation, it's scoring a game winner. That's what we play for."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews understood the significance of the goal for Carcillo, who is nicknamed "Carbomb."

"I think a goal like that is always a huge boost and gives you the energy to keep working, keep striving to get better," Toews said. "You can be working for a long time coming back from an injury. When you don't see any results or any breakthroughs, it's a frustrating thing. Carbomb has been working hard. A goal like that, I'm sure, feels pretty good."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was just as happy for Carcillo. Quenneville has seen Carcillo put in the work to get back on the ice each time.

"Carbomb's been working his tail off, whether it was going into the season and then starting off so well and having to get back to that grind trying to rehabilitate yourself," Quenneville said. "And conditioning-wise, it's a pain. It's not fun.

"Getting back in the lineup there, certain games he gets a little more minutes. Today, he got more minutes. I thought he was responsible in his game, patience at times, still physical, hung around the net. Nice to see him score, get some production there. I'm sure he's excited like we all are."

But as excited as Carcillo was with his game winner on Wednesday, he planned on following the guideline the Blackhawks have used all season in their points streak.

"I'll enjoy it for tonight," Carcillo said. "Tomorrow, we'll move forward."