It's a fear.
Not a "shaking in your skates, paralyzed" type of fear. But a fear nonetheless.
That's how Jocelyn Thibault explains the Blackhawks' success against the class of the NHL the last few seasons and their most bitter rival, the Detroit Red Wings.
"We don't want to be embarrassed, and if we're going to beat them we have to be on top of our game," Thibault said of matchups against Detroit. "We're a little scared and I think that's healthy, I think we need that."
The fear is there because the Red Wings keep coming, and with time ticking down Sunday night, they did it again.
Finally, the Hawks couldn't hold them off anymore and Brett Hull tied it with his second goal of the game with 37 seconds remaining before a standing-room-only crowd of 21,295 at the United Center.
Minutes later, after Theo Fleury was denied a game-winner in overtime, Jason Woolley took a feed from Hull and slipped the winner past Thibault as the Red Wings stunned the Hawks 4-3.
"It's hard because we played really well the whole game," Hawks defenseman Phil Housley said. "You have to give the Wings creditthey never quit. It came down to the last minute. They get that goal, which is tough on any team, especially when you deserve to win."
The loss ended the Blackhawks' unbeaten streak at eight games.
"It's our fault," Thibault said. "We should have played better in the third period."
Added Fleury: "I think we controlled the game for 50 minutes. We just made some glaring mistakes."
Detroit came out flying and controlled the first 10 minutes of the first period, moving the puck in the Hawks' end as if it was on a string.
Brendan Shanahan had a scoring chance denied by Thibault in the first minute. Sergei Fedorov had a breakaway stopped by a diving Mark Bell 13 minutes in.
But the Hawks gradually began skating with the Red Wings shift for shift and broke through at 2:32 of the second period when Kyle Calder scored a power-play goal off a rebound from a Housley shot.
It was Calder's third goal in as many games and the fourth power-play goal for the Hawks in their last five games.
After Thibault denied Kirk Maltby from close range at 6:35 of the second, defenseman Steve Poapst scored his first of the season to make it 2-0.
The play was set up by center Alex Zhamnov, who was patient with the puck, bobbing and weaving in the Detroit zone until he found Poapst, who ripped a shot over the glove hand of Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph.
Detroit finally solved Thibault at 2:36 of the third period. Hawks defenseman Alexander Karpovtsev fanned on a clearing pass at the top of the right faceoff circle. Fedorov walked into a shot that breezed past Thibault to make it 2-1.
The goal stopped a shutout streak Thibault had against the Wings this season at 102:36.
The Hawks regained their two-goal lead seven minutes later, and again it was due to the patience of Zhamnov.
Skating into the Red Wings' zone, Zhamnov pulled up and waited for a trailing Fleury, who didn't get much on his one-time attempt. The shot hit Maltby's skate and changed direction, however, and went through Joseph's legs.
It's hard to bury the Red Wings, however. Hull deflected a Brendan Shanahan shot at 12:23 to cut it to 3-2.
The Hawks received a blow before the game when left wing Eric Daze was scratched with a stiff back.