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Islanders Blackhawks Hockey

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) scores a shootout goal past New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) during an NHL hockey game on Tuesday Jan. 22, in Chicago. The Chicago Blackhawks won 3-2.

CHICAGO — Even Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton is ready for a break.

The Hawks' new coach has tirelessly worked to try and turn the season around, but he's looking forward to the nine days off during the upcoming All-Star break and bye week.

"Well, it's nice," Colliton said. "I'm not going to turn them down. Could use a little practice time, too. I think everyone is going to enjoy the time away, get re-charged mentally and physically and hopefully come back ready to work."

They'll return on a modest two-game win streak thanks to Tuesday's exciting 3-2 shootout win over the Islanders at the United Center.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday night's game.

1. The power play continues to amaze.

Over their first 35 games the Hawks went 12-for-105 on the power play, which was the worst conversion rate (11.4 percent) in the league.

Now, over the last 16 games, the Hawks have gone 19-for-48 and have a power-play goal in nine straight games. It has started to feel strange when the Hawks haven't scored on a power play.

They've nearly doubled the season conversion rate to 20.4 percent and are all the way up to 16th in the league. How can a team that was so bad for so long become so good?

"Well, we got our confidence," Jonathan Toews said. "We're relaxed. We know how to get pucks out of tough areas when we take shots or if there's broken plays. I think everyone's just feeling confident that if we're mixing around or if I'm in the middle on the wall (Alex DeBrincat) can fill in or (Dylan Strome), (Patrick Kane). We're just kind of filling different positions at different times.

"We just know where guys are and and we're relaxed. We know that if they dump it down it's no big deal, we're confident in our breakout. We're not forcing anything. We're doing a good job of wearing teams down and then eventually the plays work out."

The first unit has done nearly all of the scoring on the power play, and that unit has consisted of Kane, Toews, Strome, DeBrincat and Erik Gustafsson. Kane and DeBrincat have been doing the bulk of the scoring with many gorgeous one-timers. But Colliton gave a lot of credit to Gustafsson.

"I just think Gus up top makes a big difference," Colliton said. "Releasing either Brinksy or Kaner on the flanks and I think Strome's done a really good job at the front, so you have three guys that have kind of been there. But the more they play together they get a lot of chemistry (and) the more they get comfortable with each other."

The early struggles on the power play are even more inexplicable in the wake of their recent surge. It may have also contributed to a general malaise that fell over the team in November and December when they had a pair of 8-game losing streaks.

"It's nice for us to be able to make a big difference for our team right now," Toews said. "For a long time it was almost not a great feeling. When we went on the power play it was almost taking the wind out of our sails ... it's huge for us to turn that around.

"Sometimes it's snowballing in the wrong direction it's really hard to turn things around and we've done that. Credit to guys like Cat and Strome and Kaner and Gusty for being hungry and going out and doing a good job."

2. Strome is quietly on a 64-point pace with the Hawks.

When Strome arrived from the Coyotes in November he brought with him untapped potential and concern he would never bust out. Almost immediately, he began to fit in and he's consistently been on the scoresheet.

During his 27 games with the Hawks, Strome has nine goals and 12 assists which would is a 64-point pace over a full season. Given that Strome only had 16 points in 48 games with the Coyotes, the Hawks are more than happy with his production. And so is Strome.

"I feel good, I feel confident with the puck," Strome said. "I just feel good with the puck around the net and lucky to bank some in. (Sunday) was an empty-netter, but I didn't score in five so nice to get one out of the way and hopefully I can keep it rolling."

3. Colliton had the Hawks ready to play.

If the Hawks had come to the United Center on Tuesday and lost, or even been blown out, nobody would have been too surprised. They were facing a red-hot Islanders team and this was the final game before the Hawks went on a 9-day break.

The first period was iffy but the second period was one of the Hawks' best of the season and they never let up in ekeing out the 3-2 shootout victory.

"It's nice," Colliton said. "Sit on this result for quite a few days, so good for everyone's mental health to get a result. I thought we played hard. I thought we deserved to win. That should make everybody feel good to come back with more energy."

Colliton has a 12-18-6 record since taking over for Joel Quenneville, a record that isn't going to have anybody doing handstands. But aside from a couple clunkers, the Hawks have consistently played hard and are 8-5-3 over their last 16 games.

Colliton isn't one to do much self-reflection, at least not during press conferences. But he took a moment on Tuesday to talk about what he expects of himself over the season's final 31 games.

"I would like to be better," Colliton said. "I think I can do better and I will do better. We're not where we want to be, so told the guys a few times, as a staff we're going to be relentless in trying to improve because we want to be at the top of the league, not where we are."

Here's a recap of the Hawks' 3-2 shootout win at the United Center:

It's time for the Blackhawks to take a much-needed break.

After beating the Islanders 3-2 in a shootout at the United Center on Tuesday, the Hawks head into the All-Star break and then their bye week just one point away from having the fewest in the NHL.

When the Hawks resume their season on Feb. 1 in Buffalo, they will be playing for pride but almost certainly not a playoff spot over their final 31 games.

They began the season 6-2-2 and it has mostly been downhill from there. The Hawks are 12-22-7 over their last 41 games and are on pace to finish with their fewest points since the 2005-06 season.

After an exciting overtime period where both teams had several good chances, the Hawks played in just their second shootout of the season.

Jonathan Toews went to his backhand to beat Islanders goalie Robin Lehner on the Hawks' first attempt. After Cam Ward stopped Josh Bailey, Patrick Kane converted his attempt and Ward stopped Mathew Barzal to complete the Hawks' victory.

Valtteri Filppula's unassisted goal 2 minutes, 19 seconds into the game gave the Islanders an early lead, which has been enough for them lately. They posted shutouts in their two games prior to Tuesday and had allowed just three goals in their past five contests.

The Islanders' scoreless streak ended at 1:58:58 when Dylan Strome's power-play goal on a five-on-three tied the score at 1. It marked the ninth straight game the Hawks scored a power-play goal and was the first the Islanders had allowed in their past seven games.

But 1:28 later Barzal picked up a Connor Murphy turnover inside his own blue line and scored on a breakaway to put the Islanders back ahead, 2-1.

The Hawks dominated the second period, outshooting the Islanders 18-7 and tying the game on Toews' power-play goal, his 22nd of the season.

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