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It’s not often faceoffs get top billing in a postgame report. But then again, it's not often a team wins 71 percent of their draws.
A problem, at times, for the Chicago Blackhawks this season, it was anything but, in their 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Friday night.
“It was a big night [in the faceoff circle], I think everyone had significant numbers,” Joel Quenneville said after the game. “That can help, starting with the puck, having puck possession is complementary to our team game.”
Ryan Johnson won 14 of 19, Jonathan Toews, 13 of 18, but the best of the bunch was Jake Dowell who lost just one of 12. Johnson performed that same feat on Wednesday night against Calgary. Even Dave Bolland, much maligned this year for a poor faceoff percentage, won 50 percent for the game.
The last time the Hawks had a better single game winning percentage in the faceoff circle was Feb. 10, 2008 against Vancouver.
Chris Campoli, playing in his second game as a Hawk, made an electric third period rush which led to Ryan Johnson’s first goal of the season. He added another assist a few minutes later.
“[I was] just reading the play,” Campoli said. “Just taking what they give me. I guess it’s a sign I feel a little more comfortable. It felt great. Most important is the two points as a team.”
Campoli joined the Hawks as they were playing their best hockey of the season. It wasn’t that long ago they were languishing below the cutoff line for playoff teams.
“It’s hard to imagine,” Campoli said. “I have to be honest. Coming from where I came from [Ottawa] we had a tough go. [Its] just a talented group in here. Proud to be a Blackhawk, excited about the opportunity. What can I say, it’s great.”
Toews scored his sixth goal in four games on his first shift of the night. He has a Blackhawks’ season-high eight game point streak, it’s the longest active streak in the NHL.
With Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland both notching their 15th goals of the season, the Hawks have the most players to reach at least that many, seven, in the Western Conference. It’s the second most in the NHL.
Joel Quenneville, on the balanced attack of his team: “It’s probably at our best point all year and we want to make sure we continue on heading in the right direction.”
Viktor Stalberg returns to Toronto, on Saturday, for the first time since the Maple Leafs traded him last summer for Kris Versteeg.
“Excited about it,” he said. “Been looking forward to it all year. But we need the two points.”