The Chicago Blackhawks did not have Marian Hossa to play hero on Wednesday night, but Dan Carcillo’s first goal of the season may wind up being his biggest. Chicago’s left winger scored in the final minute, giving the Blackhawks a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche and extending their NHL-record points streak to 24 games.
The Blackhawks' streak doesn't stop there either. NHL fans can trace it back to last season, putting their official mark at 30 straight point-scoring games.
Carcillo’s goal came at the 19:10 mark on a last-ditch offensive effort. Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was surrounded by red sweaters and could not make the save, as a backhanded poke from Carcillo went through his legs in the final minute.
Chicago’s heroics were a part of a 2-0 run in the third period to come back from a 2-1 deficit heading into the final frame. The victory was a franchise-record 11th straight for the Blackhawks, who are now 21-0-3—one game away from reaching the season’s midpoint without losing in regulation.
The National Post's Bruce Arthur pointed out exactly how long it's been since Chicago has lost a game in regulation:
The Chicago Blackhawks haven't lost in regulation during the regular season since March 25, 2012. No biggie.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) March 7, 2013
The Blackhawks did not come away with the victory unscathed, however. Already playing without Hossa, center Patrick Sharp left midway through the third period with an injury, per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus:
Emery with another big stop on a 2-on-1, and Patrick Sharp is headed to the dressing room after a hit. He looks to be in pain. #Blackhawks— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) March 7, 2013
Though the extent of Sharp’s injury is not known, he looked to be in obvious pain and was holding his arm after being slammed into the boards. It will be something to monitor going forward—especially considering the injury bug seems to be the only thing that can stop Chicago at the moment.
Getting on the board early in the first period, the Blackhawks seemed as if they were ready to make the raucous crowd scream early. Andrew Shaw scored a power-play goal at the 9:51 mark and was assisted by Brent Seabrook and Brandon Saad.
However, as has been the case throughout much of this record-setting streak, the opponent would not make things easy. Colorado was not in the slightest bit dejected by Shaw’s goal, going right back on the offensive attack and creating momentum.
Chicago’s excellent defense was able to keep the team ahead but could not quite finish the first period with a 1-0 lead. Avalanche center John Mitchell knocked through a beautiful backhand shot from close to the net at the 18:20 mark to tie the game heading into intermission. The goal was Mitchell’s seventh of the season and seemingly gave Colorado enough momentum to make it clear this wouldn’t be a blowout.
From there, the Avalanche came out for the second period looking every bit like a team worthy of sharing the ice with the NHL’s best. Colorado got a goal from a Matt Duchene wrist shot at 13:17 in the second period and walked into the final intermission seemingly on the precipice of ending the Blackhawks’ titillating run.
Key to the Avalanche's excellence was their ability to block shots. Continually putting their bodies on the line, Colorado defenders got in front of 21 different shots and were able to stop the Blackhawks on all but one power-play opportunity.
However, that 2-1 lead just would not hold. Jonathan Toews tied the contest up with his beautiful short-handed goal early in the period, and Carcillo played the hero to continue this cardiac streak.
Eventually, the Blackhawks will lose in regulation, everyone will move on and hockey will inevitably fade out of the mainstream lexicon until the Stanley Cup playoffs. But for now, Chicago—and thus the NHL as a whole—remains atop the sports world.