Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime win over Hurricanes: Alex DeBrincat's breakout game

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime win over Hurricanes: Alex DeBrincat's breakout game

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 4-3 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night:

1. Stumbling out of the gates, again.

For the second straight game, the Blackhawks lacked some jump from the get-go and spent the first half of the opening frame chasing the Hurricanes, who peppered 14 shots on goal in the first 10 minutes.

To the Blackhawks' credit, they bounced back and finished the period with 30 shot attempts (16 on goal) but not before allowing two goals to Brock McGinn — his first of the night — and Jeff Skinner. They also came up empty on their lone power play opportunity.

The Blackhawks have now been outscored 11-8 in the first period since the first two games of the season when they outscored Pittsburgh and Columbus by a combined 7-0.

2. Where did that come from?

The Hurricanes took an uncharactersitic amount of penalties, which led to four power play opportunities for the Blackhawks. And they turned in one of their best efforts in a long, long time on the second of four.

Early in the second period on Marcus Kruger's tripping penalty, the Blackhawks spent nearly the entire two minutes in Carolina's end and were able to cash in at the very end of it when Jonathan Toews fed a beautiful pass to Alex DeBrincat, who buried home Chicago's first goal of the evening. It happened exactly when the Blackhawks' power play expired, but we're still counting it as something they can build off of.

That's one the coaching staff will absolutely circle in the film room, and preach doing exactly that going forward.

3. Alex DeBrincat's breakout game.

The Blackhawks' top prospect hasn't been bad in the early stages of his rookie campaign, but he hasn't been an impact player either. And that's understandable; he's only 19 year old and still adjusting to the league.

He easily had his best game in a Blackhawks sweater to date, showing big flashes of his potential.

DeBrincat scored two goals — both in the second period — and added a pretty assist on Brandon Saad's overtime game winner to help his team pick up an important two points. It was DeBrincat's second multi-point effort of the season, and first career three-point game.

He now has four goals — albeit, two were empty netters — in five games this month after scoring just one in 12 games in October. 

4. Saad makes up for missed penalty shot.

The Blackhawks spent the majority of the game playing catch-up, but they had a prime opportunity to take control early on when Saad drew a slashing penalty that resulted in a penalty shot seconds into a Carolina power play.

Saad was denied by former teammate Scott Darling, and fell to 0-for-3 on penalty shots for his career. It almost served as the turning point in the game, considering the Hurricanes followed that up by scoring a pair of goals to give themselves a two-goal lead.

But Saad made up for that by netting his fifth game-winning goal of the season — second in overtime — when he beat Darling five-hole, snapping a 10-game goal drought. It came a game after he registered a season-high eight shots on goal. He was due.

5. Second line leads the spark.

When the Blackhawks fell behind 2-0, it was the trio of Nick Schmaltz, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane that generated a few scoring chances on back-to-back shifts to help tilt the ice in Chicago's favor.

Kane was the only player from that line to get on the scoresheet (one assist) when it was all said and done, but they had the best possession numbers of the four lines, combining for 20 shot attempts (10 on goal).

 

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: