Hawks role player rising when needed
CHICAGO -- If you need further indication the Chicago Blackhawks are on a roll just look to the last two games. First, little used John Scott is voted No. 2 star in Friday's win over Anaheim then Sunday defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson does one better in a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.
The role players are helping after 30 games of domination by the stars. Hjalmarsson scored his first goal of the season earning him first star of the game status.
“It feels good,” he said. “I’ve had a couple good chances in the games before. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. It felt good to have luck on my side for once.”
Hjalmarsson was only credited with the shot that went in but he admitted to a confidence boost as he saw 24:12 of ice time due to an injury to teammate Brent Seabrook which occurred late in the first period.
“It’s different if you come into the game with six [defenseman] but [losing one] in-game you pretty much have a different d-man every shift,” Hjalmarsson said. “You play more which isn’t a bad thing because the more you play the more comfortable you get. Obviously it takes a little toll on the body.”
Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith both credited their forwards for helping out and getting pucks deep so they could make quick changes with only five playing on the blue-line. Losing Seabrook to a head injury could have put the Hawks in a hole.
“All the 'D' were playing well and contributing,” Keith said. “It makes it a lot easier on the defense when the forwards are coming back and helping out and being in real good position for support.”
And it doesn’t hurt when the defense contributes on offense. Steve Montador also scored and the entire group held the Flames to just 11 shots through 40 minutes when the game was decided.
“I just think we’re doing all the small things really good,” Hjalmarsson said.
• With a third period assist Patrick Sharp extended his scoring streak to nine games, a career high. It’s also the longest in the NHL this season.
• Jamal Mayers extended a point streak to three games with a first period assist. It’s his longest in two calendar years.
• One game after winning eight of nine face-offs, Marcus Kruger won just two of 12.
• The Hawks’ five game winning streak is the longest since an eight game streak in late February and March of last season.