After Wednesday's dramatic 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was asked whether he or anyone else on the team could have foreseen the kind of record-setting 21-0-3 start the Hawks have compiled.
"Nobody in their right mind," Quenneville replied with a broad smile after his team won its 11th straight.
But the fact remains that now halfway through their lockout-shortened 48-game schedule the Blackhawks have yet to lose in regulation.
"You're optimistic when you start the season and then get to five or 10 games, but it's gone on now for a while," Quenneville said. "It's been a lot of fun. I'm certainly very pleased, shocked, surprised, whatever term you use.
"I don't think we're thinking about it, but we just look at that game and look at the challenge the next opponent is. But I thought we had a little fun after the game. That was a pretty remarkable ending."
After Chicago fell behind 2-1, Jonathan Toews tied the game early in the third period with a shorthanded goal, and then Daniel Carcillo netted the game-winner with less than a minute to play.
After two attempts at scoring in front of the Avalanche net by Viktor Stalberg, the third time was the charm for Carcillo, who grabbed the rebound off Stalberg's second shot and then slipped the puck past Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov.
It was Carcillo's first goal of the season and couldn't have come at a better time, with just 50 seconds left.
"We had more success when we put pucks at the net, with second and third opportunities lately," Quenneville said. "Commend the guys for persevering and finding ways. We had a real short bench there, and again tonight might have been a good example of finding ways to win to a different level."
Quenneville called Toews' shorthanded score "a huge boost. As big a boost as it is for your team, it's a deflator for your opponent. When you give up a shorty and you get outscored on the power play, it hurts."
However, the win could be costly for the Hawks. Both Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp were injured in the game. Marian Hossa, who played in his 1,000th game Sunday at Detroit, is also ailing.
"Hosie (Hossa) will hopefully be ready for the next game. (Shaw) we'll know more tomorrow, and Sharpie ... may miss some time," Quenneville said.
The team has not announced what the injuries are.
With points in its last 30 games, dating to the end of last season, Chicago inched closer to the NHL record of 35, set by the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers.
While the Avalanche (8-10-4) came out feisty and tried to push their weight around, Chicago continued to do what it has done in this magical season thus far -- namely, bide their time for an opportunity.
This time, it was with the power-play advantage as Shaw tipped in a shot from Brandon Seabrook at 9:51 of the first period. It was Shaw's sixth goal of the season, giving the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
"It's a tough loss again," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "It's two games in row that I thought we handled the game pretty well for the most part and we have a power play and we don't generate anything, and we give up the chance on it. It's just frustrating right now. Again, because we had some good play in that game today, we did some things well and to come up again without any points, it's disappointing."
Colorado responded with a pair of goals, the first by center John Mitchell at 18:20 of the first period and the other by Matt Duchene at 13:17 of the second period.
"They're a fast team, and we hadn't seen them all year, too," Quenneville said of Colorado. "They're a dangerous team and have some guys that were really dangerous out there, as well.
"Some nights, you have to find ways to keep yourself in the game. You may not be feeling great or you might not have the same pace that you can do. Sometimes your thought process isn't quite what you like it to be, but in a game like today, with all the different elements challenging them, they overcame a lot of hurdles and left it out there."
Toews' shorthanded goal definitely turned the momentum in Chicago's favor, as Colorado struggled the remainder of the game to get any hint of a rally going.
"(The Avalanche) were hungry to be the spoiler and, with a couple guys going down, it's not easy to keep going and to stick with it in a game like that when that other team has a lot of momentum," Toews said. "What we've been through lately really gives us that confidence that we can go into the third period, down a goal, and we have a great feeling that somehow, someway, we're going to find a way.
"Whether you get the bounces or not, at least we're going to put a lot of pressure on them and make them make mistakes. That's what we did."
It was Toews' team-leading 10th goal of the season.
Chicago goalie Ray Emery remained perfect in goal, extending his career-best winning streak to 10-0-0.