Blackhawks tie NHL record, lose Marian Hossa to injury
It certainly wasn't the way they drew it up. But with their 4-3 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks tied an NHL record by playing their 16th straight game without a regulation loss to open the season.
The Chicago Blackhawks have now played more than a third of their schedule without losing a game in regulation.
It certaintly wasn't the way that they drew it up. But with their 4-3 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, the Blackhawks tied an NHL record by playing their 16th straight game without a regulation loss to open the season. That matches the streak put together by the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks.
That Anaheim team, of course, went on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks have a chance to set the mark on Friday night, when they host the San Jose Sharks.
But while they earned a spot in the history books for their amazing start, the night wasn't completely flawless. Actually, part of it was bad. Potentially very bad.
The worst news for Chicago is that forward Marian Hossa, who was having a dominant night on the ice, had to leave the game after he was hit from behind by Canucks forward Jannik Hansen. Hossa scored two goals in the game, one of them on a beautiful individual effort as he came out of the corner and beat Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider. He had several other chances before leaving, including a shorthanded breakaway in the first period.
But just a little over a minute into the third period, Hossa was on the receiving end of the hit from Hansen shown above. There is no doubt the NHL is going to take a long look at that, especially since Hossa had to leave the game.
What makes it even more concerning for Chicago is that Hossa is coming off a serious concussion in last year's playoffs, when he was hit by Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres on a play that earned Torres a lengthy suspension.
The Blackhawks had a chance on Tuesday night in regulation but had one of their worst stretches of the season in the closing minutes and let a two-goal lead slip away, sending the game to overtime.
Chicago sits on top of the NHL's standings with a 13-0-3 record for 29 points. That's a points percentage of .906. Entering Tuesday's game, no other team in the league had a points percentage higher than .833 (Anaheim, and it's the only team higher than .800).
Every other team in the NHL has at least two regulation losses while only Anaheim and Boston have fewer than three.
Expectations for the Blackhawks are now going to be through the roof, and it's pretty much going to be Stanley Cup or bust at this point (and that's probably unfair because this magical run is going to end at some point).
Chicago is definitely one of the most talented teams in the league. A run like this not only requires a stacked roster (that Chicago absolutely has) but also a lot of luck. And they're currently getting plenty from both areas (skill and luck). The Blackhawks entered Tuesday's game with a team shooting percentage north of 11 percent and a team save percentage over .930. Recent NHL history tells us both of those numbers are going to regress at some point.
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