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Friday, October 30

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Blackhawks Wed Dec 02 2009

7-11 Quenneville's lucky numbers in 500th win

As Tuesday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets dragged into a lengthy shootout, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was starting to exhaust all his options. Finally, in the 11th round, Q sent out defenseman Brent Seabrook, and #7 was able to wrist a shot past Jackets goalie Chris Mason's glove for a 4-3 Hawks victory and Quenneville's 500th career coaching triumph.

While Q spent the majority of his time behind the bench in rival St. Louis, in his year-plus stint with the Hawks (he took over for Denis Savard 4 games into last season) he's made a huge impact on a talented team. The team's offensive talent has shined through with young stars like Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews, but the former NHL defenseman has established a strong defensive system that has the Hawks off to a flying start after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season.

Last night's win was a gut-check effort, as the Blackhawks came out flat after returning from a successful but long circus trip. They took a 1-0 lead into the locker room after the first period despite being outshot 10-5, thanks to a spiffy shorthanded goal from Kris Versteeg. Columbus came back to take a 2-1 lead in the middle of the second before Patrick Sharp evened things up with a powerplay goal, and the teams traded goals in the 3rd, with Jonathon Toews netting a 2nd powerplay goal to set up the overtime and eventual shootout, whose 11 rounds is the longest the Hawks have been in.
Also, Marian Hossa made his home debut after returning last week in San Jose, notching two assists as well as a shifty shootout goal in the 2nd round before Seabrook's tally. Hossa skated on the top line with Jonathon Toews and Patrick Sharp, and has shown why the Blackhawks signed him to a record 12-year contract with 4 points in his first 4 games and strong play in all areas of the ice.

Chicago pushed their home record to 11-2-1 (and 8 straight wins at the UC), and their 17-6-3 overall record has given the team a 6-point cushion in the Central division. With 9 of their next 14 games at home this month, the Hawks can put the pedal to the division race and position themselves as a top team to beat.

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