The Chicago Blackhawks are slowly starting to turn a corner.
After beating the St. Louis Blues 3-1 on Saturday at the United Center, the Blackhawks won consecutive games for the first time all season. They're also on a three-game point streak (2-0-1).
"We really needed to build some momentum at home," Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson said. "I think that's important for our team, but also just for the culture around here moving forward. We want to make sure that we do that, so I think we're feeling good.
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"It's been a long time coming. I think now that we have it, I love it because most athletes get a taste of victory and they want more. And I think that's what we want out of this group."
In addition, the Blackhawks improved to 4-1-1 in their last six home games after starting the season 1-5-0 at the United Center. The turnaround happened after Nick Foligno voiced his frustration following the fifth home loss of the season on Nov. 19.
"I've been on the other side of it when you come in this building and you're hoping to get a win some nights," Foligno said at the time. "I want to create that again. The fans deserve that. They sell it out every night to watch us play.
"It's a great building when we're playing the right way and we haven't gotten the results we need and it's disappointing because we want to make this a hard place to play."
The energy was terrific on Saturday, with 18,892 fans in attendance — just short of a sellout. You could feel it right from the National Anthem.
"It feels great," said Alex Vlasic, who scored his first goal of the season in Saturday's win. "Just the anthem, I was talking to Louis [Crevier] the other day about it because it was his first time playing here, and I said it never gets old for me standing on that blue line and hearing everybody cheer throughout the whole anthem. It gives you goosebumps. It's electric every night."
"It's pretty special," Connor Bedard said of the anthem experience before the game. "Everyone you talk to about playing here — as an away team or home team — that's one of the first things they say. It's pretty special and gives you goosebumps every time. It's unique the way they do it here. It's pretty cool.
"I've just never really seen anything like that. It's really loud, just how the fans get into it."
The Blackhawks are hoping to capitalize on that momentum at home, with five of the next eight games at the United Center before they hit the road for five straight.
"I don't know how many games we have left until Christmas break, but I think we've got to continue to do that," Vlasic said. "I think it'd be huge going into the second half of the year and trying to make this a hard place to play. That was something that we tried to work on in training camp and it didn't really happen at first but if we can find a way to try to make teams battle for a win every night to come in here, then we'll do our job."