Even without the throngs of fans in the seats, the Chicago Blackhawks are a better team in the Madhouse on Madison.
With a home-heavy schedule in the next few weeks, starting with a Friday night clash with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first of two consecutive games between the teams, the Blackhawks have an opportunity to find a winning formula.
The Blackhawks opened the season with six of eight games on the road, and they lost all of their tilts away from Chicago, going 0-3-3. Now, the squad that won its first two games on home ice -- consecutive games against the Detroit Red Wings -- has six of eight games in the United Center.
Chicago is heading home after a pair of extra-time losses in Nashville, but in looking at the positive, the Blackhawks collected points in five consecutive outings (2-0-3).
"We had the opportunity to get more than two points (in Nashville), but at the same time it's good to get two," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said after his team's 2-1 shootout loss on Wednesday. "We'll go back home and try to build on it."
Chicago's struggles aren't much of a surprise considering the team is in the midst of a rebuild and has a number of key offensive players out of the lineup for a variety of issues and ailments.
However, the Blackhawks are discovering what their goaltending tandem can provide, with both netminders -- Malcolm Subban and Kevin Lankinen -- coming off strong effort in Nashville.
Lankinen provided a 41-save performance in Wednesday's shootout loss.
"I think me and Subby and (third goalie Collin) Delia have a really good relationship," Lankinen said. "We're pushing each other. Every time you see a guy plays well, you want to jump in and play better. I think it's just a win-win situation."
The Blue Jackets arrive after claiming a home-ice 3-2 shootout win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Columbus, which has gone to extra time in four of its past five outings, is on a 3-0-3 run after losing its first two games of the season in regulation.
Alexandre Texier's game-winning goal will have tongues wagging. As he appeared to be working toward a deke, Texier put a one-handed shot through the legs of Florida goalie Chris Driedger. It was the third-year center's first career shootout attempt.
"What a goal by Tex," said Blue Jackets forward Max Domi, who netted his first goal of the season in the third period. "That was absolutely ridiculous. ... Off the charts."
The Blue Jackets have had their share of upheaval with the trade that sent Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets and brought Patrik Laine -- who has yet to play for them -- and Jack Roslovic into the fold, but believe they are taking the right steps forward.
"We had a couple surges from them early, but we didn't give them much," said Roslovic, a Columbus native who made his Blue Jackets debut Thursday. "I think we played with good pace and the right way, and came away with two points."
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said, "Players want results, and they got the full result tonight. We played much better throughout the game as far as competitiveness. I'm glad we got two (points) and not just one."
Now, the search is to find more consistency.
"We're trying to stabilize ourselves and not go up and down, one good game and then a lousy game," Tortorella said. "Hopefully we'll get to Chicago, play another good game and get another good result."
--Field Level Media