He was given the game puck for his first career NHL win. Mike Haviland, filling in for the ailing Joel Quenneville, said he and fellow assistant coach Mike Kitchen split the duties and the result was a 3-1 Chicago Blackhawks victory over the Minnesota Wild.
“I’m sure it was in their heads,” Haviland said of their hospitalized coach. “That’s a gutsy effort. Our head coach not being here.”
Haviland said he hasn’t talked to Joel Quenneville yet and isn’t sure if he watched the game. If he did, he would have liked what he saw.
“It was a huge game obviously, a special teams game, I thought we battled really hard for the whole 60 minutes,” Haviland said. “Even when they tied it up, we came right back and got one.”
So what was Haviland’s pregame speech?
“I just talked about the importance of the game,” he said. “I said ‘it's time. Time for us to make a stand. We can’t just wait till tomorrow.’ That’s basically what I said.”
It worked, though the Hawks spent the first 10 minutes in their zone. Haviland thought they settled down once they scored the game’s first goal. And so Haviland gets the win and meets the media for the first time.
“It’s a little bigger than the [AHL]," Haviland joked. “It’s not about me, it’s about that group in there.”
Crawford comes up big
Possibly forgotten in the win was a great night by Corey Crawford. He earned the No. 1 star based on a 17-save first period. He made some big stops.
“It was pretty good,” a humble Crawford said after the game. “Probably one of my better ones at home, for sure.”
Mike Haviland said he wasn’t surprised the Wild had an early advantage, knowing they had lost the night before and the Hawks were starting up at home after a long road trip.
“Corey definitely held us in there,” Haviland said. “Corey was outstanding through the whole game but those first ten minutes, we were getting outshot 11-2 there. We turned it over an awful lot in our own end.”
Crawford might be the key to the Hawks' run to the playoffs. He improved on his fourth ranked goals against average, which was 2.13 coming into the game. He was outstanding.
“It was important not to give them one early and for us to have the first goal of the game is big against a team like this,” Crawford said. “I felt good from the start. That’s [tough beginning] going to happen. Teams are going to make plays.”
Crawford made 33 stops to improve his record to 18-11-3 after a 1-4 start.
The Hawks did not have a postgame update on Joel Quenneville’s condition. Jonathan Toews is waiting for the right time to reach out to Quenneville.
“I’ll talk to Stan [Bowman] and see when the right time to do that is,” Toews said. “We want Q to know our thoughts are with him. We wanted to win one for him tonight. We’ll talk about when the right time is to go see him or send him some flowers or something.”
Dave Bolland had assists on all three Hawks’ goals.
Haviland praised Marian Hossa for a strong game, which was preceded by a good effort in Phoenix. He had two assists on Wednesday.
Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal and delivered a team high seven hits in the game.
The Hawks might finally be over the flu bug. They had their full complement of players, including Jake Dowell, who missed the last game.
“It was pretty bad,” Dowell said. “I haven’t had the flu in a long time. I tried to tough things out. Every time I had a sip of water I couldn’t even hold it down.”
Ryan Johnson returned to practice after getting hit hard into the boards against Dallas on Friday.
“I got my bell rung pretty good and I was out of it in a pretty good way,” he said. “I took another shift and really went downhill quick and realized I was putting myself in a pretty harmful spot by trying to keep going. Ten minutes after that I wasn’t doing very well back in the dressing room.”
Johnson is eligible to come off injured reserve for Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.