One NHL team is off to its best start ever

979675.jpg

One NHL team is off to its best start ever

From Comcast SportsNetCHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Blackhawks are off to the best start in their 85-year history, despite not being in charge for much of their game against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night.Thanks to Nick Leddy's goal at 2:45 of overtime and a zoned-in, 29-save effort from Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks defeated the Red Wings 2-1 and improved to 6-0.After taking a cross-ice pass from Viktor Stalberg, Leddy fired from the left circle and beat Detroit's Jimmy Howard with a shot that slipped just under his glove. Leddy, a defenseman, said it was his first overtime goal at any level."It's an unbelievable feeling, one I'll never forget," he said. "I heard that stat (best start) before the game. If we stick to doing the little things, we'll be great."The Blackhawks started 5-0 in 1971-72 -- Hall of Famer Bobby Hull's final season in Chicago -- and matched it on Saturday night with a 3-2 win in Columbus.On Sunday, however, they were anything but assertive for much of the second and third period. Part of that was penalty-related.Still, Chicago killed all six of Detroit's power plays, improving to 22 of 23 this season.Detroit's Johan Franzen finally connected at even-strength early in the third to tie the game at 1 and set up overtime. Duncan Keith scored a power-play goal in the first period for Chicago."We could have been on our heels a little bit," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Detroit was pressing (being) down a goal. You know everything's coming. They were pinching."We could have been better, but at the same time, six (games) in nine (days) could have been a factor."Quenneville couldn't really fault his club, one of two undefeated NHL teams along with San Jose."I think everybody deserves credit," Quenneville said. "Everybody's contributing. Everybody was where we wanted them to be. Everybody had good conditioning to start with. Special teams, Crow (Crawford) in net, the team game. I'm pleased."Crawford, who made his fifth start in six games, was sharp again. Last season, the Blackhawks' 28-year-old No. 1 goalie was criticized for allowing soft and untimely goals. That hasn't happened so far this season."Focus has been a huge part of it so far," Crawford said. "I thought I was focused last year, but I wasn't quite there."This year, I've paid a little bit more attention to that, especially throughout the game. Every play around the net, I'm ready and getting low for little things around the net so I don't give up those little goals."Crawford needed to be sharp when his teammates sagged on Sunday."I thought we really carried the play in the last 30 minutes of the game," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "They were better than us early. They outskated us, and then we really dug in and got playing a while. We had every opportunity to win the game."Injury-depleted Detroit has gone just 2 for 26 with the man advantage so far."We've got to shoot the puck a little more and maybe things will be a little different," Franzen said. "It think it's just a matter of getting the shots and getting the traffic."Howard, who has started all five of Detroit's games, made 25 saves.Chicago has won four straight against Detroit, dating to Feb. 21, 2012. The Blackhawks and Red Wings met for the 722th time, the most of any two NHL opponents.Sunday's game was only the Blackhawks' second at home, and they begin a six-game road trip Wednesday in Minnesota. The Blackhawks don't skate at home again until Feb. 12 as they play 10 of their first 12 games away from the United Center.Keith scored the only goal of the first period, during a power play 2:24 in.Crawford had to be sharp to preserve the lead in second. Early in the period, he made close-in saves on Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg. And the Blackhawks needed Crawford as they ran into penalty trouble in the second. Detroit was unable to convert any of four straight power plays beginning midway through the second, including a 43-second 5-on-3 advantage."The D were blocking the shots," Quenneville said. "Key saves by Crow (Crawford). It was a group effort, with spectacular kills."We dodged a bullet. It was the key to the game."The Blackhawks started the third sluggishly, and Franzen finally tied it at 1 with an even-strength goal at 4:30 of the period. After Zetterberg's shot was blocked, Franzen picked up the loose puck and closed in from the right circle. He got by Keith and beat Crawford with a shot between the legs.Crawford made a point-blank stop on Cory Emmerton midway through the third to preserve the tie.Howard then made sprawling saves on Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews during a Chicago power play with just under 5 minutes left in the third. Keith's shot a minute-and-a-half later hit the post.Crawford stopped Franzen's prime chance 1:30 into overtime.Notes: Red Wings D Jonathan Ericsson returned after missing three games with an injured hip. ... Detroit C Darren Helm (back) and D Jakub Kindl (healthy scratch) sat out after playing on Friday against Minnesota. Both have missed four of five games so far. ... Red Wings D Ian White (leg), D Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and LW Jan Mursak (shoulder) and G Jonas Gustavsson (groin) remain sidelined. ... Out for Chicago were LW Daniel Carcillo (knee) and D Steve Montador (concussion, from last season) ... The 1971-72 Blackhawks won nine of its first 11 games en route to a 46-17-15 record and first place in the NHL's old Western Division.

Gostkowski named AFC special teams player of week

patriots-stephen-gostkowski.jpg

Gostkowski named AFC special teams player of week

FOXBORO -- It's been an uncharacteristically erratic season for Stephen Gostkowski, but on Sunday the Patriots Pro Bowl kicker was dialed in. And his four field-goal performance against Los Angeles earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. It is the second time this season and the fifth time in his career that Gostkowski has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, having also won the award after the first game of the season at Arizona. 

Gostkowski's missed four field goals so far this season. He hasn't missed four in a year since 2012 when he missed six field goals. He's also missed three extra points. While the Patriots were a little downcast about the inability of their offense to close out drives against the Rams, an ancillary benefit was undoubtedly Gostkowski having a day that should boost his confidence going forward. 

Belichick shares Pearl Harbor thoughts on 75th anniversary of the attack

patriots-belichick-100216.jpg

Belichick shares Pearl Harbor thoughts on 75th anniversary of the attack

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick's connection to the Navy has been well-chronicled in this space and others, and so it comes as little surprise that he gladly took the opportunity to discuss Pearl Harbor and its aftermath when given the opportunity during a press conference Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of the attack. 

"Yeah, pretty big day in our history," Belichick said. "Certainly in Naval history. But for me, the lesson on Pearl Harbor, and for us as a team and individually, I'd say, is not what happened on Dec. 7 -- although there was a lesson there -- but the response.

"What the response was from our nation, from our military, from our civilians, from our population, to battle the world on two fronts and win both of them. Think of what this country did under [President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt's leadership, as well as multiple military leaders, and then go fight in Europe and go fight in Southeast Asia and Japan, the response to what happened on Dec. 7, 1941 is pretty impressive.

"I remember my dad talking a lot about that, when it happened, when he found out, then when he went to the Navy and went to Great Lakes, and then eventually went to Europe and eventually went to Okinawa. It was a tough time for this country, but it was a great example of the Patriotism of our citizens, men, women, fighting together, pulling together and being victorious in a lot of different ways.

"It's special. Special day . . . Tough day for the Navy, though, but they responded. They bounced back. Battle of Midway, that was really a huge turning point. Had it not gone on the way it did. I don't know, it probably would've been a longer fight." 

Before delving into his response, Belichick mentioned that documentary filmmaker and former WJAR sports reporter Tim Gray, who once covered the Patriots, has done a great deal of work on World War II. Gray's latest documentary, "Remember Pearl Harbor," will debut on 125 PBS stations throughout the country today.