DETROIT -- If the Chicago Blackhawks are not already considered part of a slang definition for the popular sports cliché “next man up,” they have to be close.
On Sunday, Patrick Kane was the latest in a growing line of players who have stepped up in big moments to keep the Blackhawks’ historic streak alive.
When the restlessness among Blackhawks fans in attendance seemed to be reaching a boiling point at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday, Kane gave them a reason to exhale and then brought smiles to their faces.
The right winger scored the tying goal on a Chicago power play with 2:02 remaining in regulation to extend the Blackhawks’ NHL record points streak to start a season to 22 games, and then scored in the shootout to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 win over the rival Detroit Red Wings.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Kane is the latest player to shine on a team that already seems to be playing in the clouds.
“I think he knew the importance of it to get it to overtime,” Quenneville said. “He has the puck a lot and he’s dangerous. He makes things happen. Great play by Viktor [Stalberg] to get it to him.
“I think we’ve had some games that we say it might have been the best game we’ve played, but I think we keep talking about trying to get better. Certain lines on a given night have really good nights, but everybody on every given night has been contributing. It’s been another reason we’ve been successful. I don’t think we’re satisfied with what we’ve accomplished so far, but we’re definitely excited about where we’re at.”
The sold-out arena became deafening when Tomas Tatar gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead 2:43 into the third period, but Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, back from a minor upper-body injury suffered on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues, kept the Blackhawks within striking distance with an outstanding performance in a playoff atmosphere.
Quenneville said he was proud of the way the Blackhawks (19-0-3) persevered through the adversity and found a way to light the lamp against Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who was stellar in net for Detroit.
“We found a way,” Quenneville said with a smile.
Chicago, which has an NHL-best 41 points, is in an exhausting stretch of six games in 10 days, but Quenneville continues to find ways to have his team playing at a high level.
Quenneville played seven defensemen on Sunday, a move he called a pregame “adjustment.” He was also able to get willing double shifts out of guys like Kane, who continue to feed off the history being made.