The Chicago Blackhawks are off to the best start in the 86-year history of the franchise, led by a balanced offense, a strong penalty kill and reliable goaltending.
They'll look to continue their well-rounded play when they open a six-game road trip Wednesday night against the Minnesota Wild, who just put a stop to a three-game losing streak.
The Blackhawks (6-0-0) are one of two remaining unbeatens in the NHL, and they already have four road victories under their belt as they begin their longest trip of the season. Sixteen skaters have registered at least one point, including 10 with at least three.
Patrick Kane leads the way with nine, while Marian Hossa's five goals are a team best.
"I think everybody deserves credit," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Everybody's contributing. Everybody was where we wanted them to be. Everybody had good conditioning to start with. Special teams, Crow (Corey Crawford) in net, the team game. I'm pleased."
Their perfect record was in jeopardy Sunday against Detroit, but Nick Leddy scored in overtime for a 2-1 win. Chicago killed off all six of the Red Wings' power plays, improving to 22 of 23 this season.
"We could have been better, but at the same time six (games) in nine (days) could have been a factor," Quenneville said.
Crawford will make his sixth start of the season Wednesday, and he's been one of the best goalies in the league in the early going. His 1.78 goals-against average is nearly a full goal below his 2.72 GAA from 57 games last season.
"I like his approach to the season," Quenneville told the team's official website. "He seems prepared and he's shown that he wants to play and he's determined to be the best he can be. He's taken charge of games at critical times and made big saves."
Minnesota (3-2-1) stepped up at a big moment Tuesday in a 3-2 home win against Columbus. The Wild squandered a 2-0 lead and were in danger of their fourth straight defeat, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard came through with the winning score with less than six minutes left.
Of the Wild's 16 goals this season, it was only the fifth not generated by the top forward line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley.
"Take pressure off the top guys, it's key," said Torrey Mitchell, who assisted on Bouchard's goal. "Secondary scoring is big. Guys are doing the right things and it's going to come around. There's no doubt in the locker room about that. But it's nice to get one, at least tonight."
Bouchard has two goals and is feeling good after playing only 97 games over the last three seasons because of concussions.
"It's pretty fun. The last few years have been pretty tough," Bouchard said. "It's good to be back and play those kinds of games and win some hockey games."
Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival, who has two assists in three games, missed the last two contests with a lower-body injury, but Quenneville said he expects him to skate Wednesday morning.
Jonathan Toews has six points over his last three games against Minnesota.
The Blackhawks are 8-1-3 in the past 12 meetings - getting at least a point in each of their last seven trips to St. Paul - though the Wild took the final two matchups last season in shootouts while Toews was sidelined.
The Associated Press News Service
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