- Jesse Rogers, Chicago Cubs beat reporter
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If the nickname the “Cardiac Kids” isn’t currently being used, maybe the Chicago Blackhawks could adopt it. December is turning into a good month for the team, but not without some nail-biting.
For the fifth time in December and fourth consecutive game, the Hawks went to overtime but again came out a 4-3 winner in a shootout over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.
The Hawks are 4-1 in this month’s overtime games and 5-0-1 overall in December.
“It seems like a lot of our games have been going to overtime or shootout lately,” Patrick Kane said afterwards. “It’s just the way it is in the NHL these days. You have to be ready for it.”
Kane was ready for it -- at least he was ready for it in the shootout where he tried a new, slow-down move which completely faked out goalie Niklas Backstrom. It ended the night on a good note for the visitors.
The Hawks squandered two leads and gave the only team ahead of them in the standings a point, but maybe there’s a silver lining to all of that. At least Joel Quenneville thinks so.
“A lot of games recently have gone to overtime but we’re getting points, it’s what it’s all about and finding ways to win and you find out about different guys in different situations,” he said. “We’re getting deeper in games [on the schedule], you get some good experience as you go along through the season. We’re playing a lot of important games here and getting points is what we emphasize but at the same time I cant remember the last game we had the luxury of the game not being on the line right to the end.”
In other words he’s learning about his team and filing it away for a more important time in the season, like the playoffs. It’s the luxury he has knowing his team is racking up points while not always playing for sixty minutes.
“We’ve had a few games going to the end like that,” Jonathan Toews said. “You can always build your confidence if you find a way to win that one.”
And that’s the other silver lining, a surging confidence. Sometimes you get more in a close win than a blow-out victory. Toews was quick to point out the “little things” the Hawks need to work on. Blowing leads is becoming more of a trend than they’d like. Bad habits will be hard to kill later in the season.
But when it comes to a road game against the best in the conference, you don’t question it too much. You take your two points -- closing the gap with them by one -- and you go home.
“It’s what we expected,” Toews said. “A tight, hard-fought game.”
A heart-stopper, no doubt. Just like the playoffs. The Hawks are getting ready. Even now.