CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks were in position to finally have their consecutive points streak snapped on Monday.
They were playing their third game in four nights and coming off a 2-1 win over San Jose Sharks on Friday and a grueling 1-0 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. And the Edmonton Oilers arrived with a day’s rest and the confidence of knowing they defeated the Blackhawks three times last season.
“I think these guys were ripe for the picking,” Oilers forward Jordan Eberle said after the game. “They had their second game in two nights. We could have easily beat them.”
But the Oilers, like everyone else this season, couldn't beat the Blackhawks in regulation.
The Blackhawks had to dig deep Monday, but they twice rallied from a one-goal deficit and forced extra time with a third-period goal by Viktor Stalberg. Then Marian Hossa provided the game-ending goal for a 3-2 overtime win to extend their NHL-record points streak to 19 games to start the season.
“It’s just fun,” Hossa said of the streak. “Obviously, we’re playing against a great young team. They had our number last season. We talked about it. They’re proving they’re a quick team. But we’re handling it even when we’re down. We’re finding a way to win, which is just great.”
The Blackhawks haven’t been in the predicament of trailing heading into the third period often this season. Monday’s game was just the third time.
The Oilers looked like the fresher team in the second period, and they were rewarded by scoring the period’s lone goal. They took a 2-1 lead into the third period. Despite that, the Blackhawks never doubted themselves.
“There’s confidence,” said forward Patrick Kane, who scored in the first period. “We had to talk among ourselves, and we know that we got to stick to the game plan and the way we want to play, which I thought we did for the most part. I thought we got away from it a little in the second period.”
At the intermission, the Blackhawks regained their focus.
“I don’t think we were happy trailing,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “[Edmonton] is a dangerous team. Certain teams have success against you, and they get confidence against you. But I still thought these last three games, we found ways in tight situations to persevere. And tonight was comparable to those games.”
The Blackhawks have certainly been battle tested this season. They have played in 13 one-goal games already.
Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp thought playing and winning in so many tight games could be extremely beneficial at the end of the season.
“You can have favorites,” Sharp said. “Analysts can pick winners before the games. But every game is tough out there. A bounce either way makes the difference. The year we won [the Stanley Cup] in 2010, every series was close.
“That’s the way hockey is: You have to find a way to win those tight games. The more we can do it now, hopefully it pays off down the road.”
And the Blackhawks understand it will only get more difficult as every opponent seeks to be the first to beat them in regulation.
There’s also the standings to still think about.
“We’re playing great, but no one is overconfident in here,” Kane said. “We want to come in and prove ourselves every game and keep trying to get points. It’s a tight race. Anaheim is right behind us, and they’ve only lost two games. There are a lot of teams that are right there with us, even though we haven’t lost in regulation yet.”