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).


Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread:

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

When the Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews third overall in 2006 and Patrick Kane with the No. 1 pick the following year, it was a sign that the dark skies were clearing in Chicago. Things really started to change when Rocky Wirtz took over as chairman following the death of his father Bill in September of 2007, and one of the first decisions he made was to televise all 82 games.

The fans were coming back.

For only the second time in 11 years, the Blackhawks finished above .500 in 2007-08 but missed the playoffs by three points, a season in which Kane won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

The following year Joel Quenneville took over as head coach after only three games to provide some coaching experience behind the bench for a young team on the rise. It resulted in a 104-point season and ended in a Conference Finals berth at the hands of the arch-rival Detroit Red Wings in five games.

The Blackhawks were ready to make that step into championship contenders. They just needed someone to put them over the edge.

Enter Marian Hossa.

On July 1 of 2009, he committed to the Blackhawks for 12 years worth $62.8 million. He bought into the long-term vision and wanted to be a part of something special for many years to come.

Was he ever.

In his first game as a member of the Blackhawks, Hossa scored two goals in a 7-2 road victory against San Jose after missing the first month and a half of the season with a shoulder injury. It was at that moment where you saw what kind of powerhouse the Blackhawks could be and would become with a full lineup and future Hall of Fame winger added to a mixture of franchise-changing players scratching the surface.

Fast forward to Game 5 of the 2010 quarterfinals. You know how it goes. Series is tied 2-2. The Blackhawks trail 4-3 late in the third period. Extra attacker is on. How many times have we seen this? The Blackhawks were surely going to find a way to tie it up ... and then Hossa is sent to the box with 1:03 to play in regulation. A five-minute major boarding penalty.


Not so fast. 

Patrick Kane went on to score arguably the biggest goal in Blackhawks history, a shorthanded one that evened it up with 13.6 seconds to go. United Center is up for grabs. But there are still four minutes left to kill off on the penalty once overtime starts, which Hossa once called "the longest four minutes of my life." 

In a span of nine seconds following the penalty kill, Hossa jumped on the ice from the box, darted straight for the net and buried home what was the second-biggest goal in franchise history to put the Blackhawks up 3-2 in the series. Two nights later Hossa assisted on three goals and the Blackhawks eliminated the Nashville Predators in their barn.

The rest is history.

Who knows if the Blackhawks rally to win that series if they don't tie it up or win it in overtime. Who knows if they break through the next year. Who knows if that core group even remains together. The course of the franchise could've changed that night.

Instead, Hossa was handed the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career on June 9, 2010 from Jonathan Toews, who couldn't give it to him fast enough after he came up on the losing end in consecutive appearances with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings in 2008 and 2009.

Hossa would add two more titles to his résumé with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015, which almost certainly locked up his legacy as one of the all-time greats and his eventual next stop: The Hockey Hall of Fame. The wait was worth it.

"I was hoping to get one coming to Chicago and now I’ve got three," Hossa said following the 2015 Stanley Cup win. "What a feeling." 

The Blackhawks don't win three Stanley Cups without Hossa, who will go down as arguably the greatest free-agent signing in Chicago sports history.

On behalf of the city of Chicago: Thank you, 81.