So far, the skaters in red and black have responded to each challenge.
"Without sounding arrogant, it's just business as usual," forward Patrick Sharp said.
Thing is, there's nothing routine about it. Certainly not after Chicago beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in overtime on Monday night, stretching its opening points streak to 19 games.
The record went down days ago, when the Blackhawks beat San Jose 2-1 on Friday night to make it 17 in a row. Now the questions are how long can it go on, and which team will stop the streak.
The Oilers gave it a good run, but eventually succumbed to the waves of pressure from the Blackhawks.
"They are an amazingly powerful team," Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger said. "They are very strong on the puck and they never, never let up, at all."
Sharp set up the winning goal with a quick turn along the boards and a drive to the goal that led to two stops by Nikolai Khabibulin. Marian Hossa picked up the second rebound and was again stuffed by Khabibulin before he poked it in 1:44 into overtime for his ninth goal of the season.
"It is a great feeling, obviously," Hossa said. "It doesn't matter who's scoring and lately we have a lot of different guys scoring. We try to enjoy the streak, keep playing a simple game and try to find a way to win."
Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg also scored for Chicago (16-0-3), which has won six straight and nine of 10. Ray Emery made 17 saves to remain unbeaten in eight starts this season.
The Blackhawks have earned 35 of 38 possible points so far this season.
"It was a great third period," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had the puck in overtime, too. Great pay by Sharpie going to the net; great patience and presence with Hossa to finish."
Nail Yakupov and Jeff Petry scored for Edmonton, which carried a 2-1 lead into the third period but couldn't hold on for what would have been its fourth consecutive victory over the Blackhawks. Khabibulin had 31 stops in the opener of the Oilers' franchise-record, nine-game road trip.
"Of course you feel pain, having the lead going into the third period," Krueger said. "It's definitely something you dream and believe you can close it."
Edmonton grabbed the lead for the last time in the second, taking advantage when Brandon Saad was sent off for high sticking. Yakupov, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, one-timed a pass from Sam Gagner into the right side of the net at 14:17 for his fourth power-play goal and sixth overall.
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Chicago looked listless for much of the second, but rebounded quickly in the third. Michal Rozsival was behind the net when he sent a pass in front to Stalberg, who poked the puck into the goal mouth as Khabibulin went to his knees to try for the stop.
The call on the ice was no goal, but replays showed the puck crossed the line before Khabibulin could make the play and Stalberg was awarded his fifth goal of the season after a short review.
The pace picked up after the tying goal, and each team had a couple of solid chances to move in front. Yakupov shot off the post on one power-play opportunity, and Khabibulin stopped Hossa on a short-handed chance.
"I think for us it would have been a big statement game if we were able to break the streak," Gagner said. "But at the same time, once we didn't do that, we wanted to find a way to get it in overtime and were unable to do that as well. So it was unfortunate we kind of squandered the lead there."
Edmonton moved in front in the first period after Duncan Keith lost his footing and coughed up the puck deep in Chicago's end. Lennart Petrell picked it up and skated in all alone on Emery, who stopped his backhand attempt. The rebound went out to Petry, who sent it over the prone goalie at 4:28.
Just over a minute later, Kane skated to the middle of the ice and beat Khabibulin with a slick backhander for his 10th goal of the season. It was his first goal since Feb. 10 at Nashville, ending a six-game drought.
"We keep finding ways to win," said Sharp, who picked up his 400th career point on the assist in overtime. "That's important at any time of the year. Those one-goal games, we're on the right side of them. We were thankful to pull it out today."
NOTES: Chicago closed out a 6-0-1 homestand. ... Edmonton F Taylor Hall served the second of a two-game suspension for his hit on Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck on Thursday. ... Blackhawks C Dave Bolland missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Chicago also scratched D Sheldon Brookbank and LW Brandon Bollig for the second straight night. ... Ds Ryan Whitney and Theo Peckham were the other scratches for the Oilers. ... The Blackhawks improved to 10-0-3 in one-goal games.
Press; By JAY COHEN]
Jay Cohen can be reached
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