In the span of 24 hours, things have gotten very interesting for the Blackhawks.
It would have been easy to dismiss Friday night's victory at Calgary as the Hawks catching a team on a letdown. But after following it up with a 4-3 victory Saturday night at Edmonton, well, perhaps the Hawks are on to something.
Like Friday, the Hawks did it the hard way, killing off a major penalty and losing defenseman Jassen Cullimore to a game misconduct for his kneeing penalty on Edmonton's Ales Hemsky.
The Hawks accomplished a rare feat Saturday. They hadn't won back-to-back games in Calgary and Edmonton since the lockout year in 1995.
"This is a confidence booster for the whole team," said Mark Bell, who had a goal--the sixth in his last five games--and an assist. "These are tough buildings to win in."
Said Adrian Aucoin: "We're working hard. That's what the foundation of this team has to be. If we show up every night and work this hard, we're going to have a lot of success."
The Hawks took the lead midway through the first period, and it was their hottest line that scored again.
Rene Bourque, playing in front of friends and family from his hometown of Lac La Biche, Alberta, two hours north of Edmonton, opened the scoring. He scored the first of his two goals and his first in five games, assisted by Bell and Kyle Calder at 11:52 of the first period.
After Hemsky scored for Edmonton, the Bell line gave the Hawks the lead again early in the second period. On a two-on-one, Kyle Calder feathered a perfect pass for a Bell tap-in and Calder's fifth assist in his last three games.
They had the lead thanks to a fine save by backup goalie Craig Anderson on Ryan Smyth's breakaway in the opening minute of the second period.
The Hawks went into the third period with a two-goal lead after Martin Lapointe scored his first goal in seven games. He one-timed a perfect pass from Brent Seabrook for a power-play goal with just 15 seconds left in the second.
Despite enjoying his best stretch of play since coming to Chicago, Nikolai Khabibulin was on the bench as Anderson made his third start and fourth appearance of the season.
Anderson hadn't played since mopping up the last two periods in the 9-1 debacle in Dallas on Nov. 4, where he gave up five goals in 45 minutes. His last start came Nov. 2 in St. Louis, where he won 6-5 in overtime but watched a three-goal third-period lead evaporate.
"[Khabibulin] needs a break, and if he wants to play at the top of his game, he needs a rest," Anderson said. "The coaching staff and players need to know that the backup is going to go in and give the team a chance to win."
Said Yawney: "[Khabibulin] had quite a bit of work in the first period Friday and a three-hour bus ride, we hadn't bused all season. Andy hadn't played in a while and was fresh. He played a good game."