A break. A fortunate bounce. A squeaker of a goal. Recently the Blackhawks haven’t had a lot of the puck luck that hockey teams talk about all the time. But when Alex DeBrincat’s shot slipped through New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist late in the second period, the Blackhawks got a big break and didn’t let it go to waste.
Through most of the third period the Blackhawks looked like a more familiar group, one that was opportunistic around loose pucks and rebounds. Artem Anisimov was the main benefactor, scoring a natural hat trick – his first career hat trick – in the Blackhawks’ 6-3 victory against his former team. But the Blackhawks’ overall reaction in the opening minutes of the third period is something they need to build on going forward.
“It was a huge goal for us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a good second period and did a lot of good things and that all of a sudden gets us excited about the third and we had a great beginning.”
The Blackhawks were doing more right in the second period, outside of their power play late in the period. Several in the United Center crowd booed as the Blackhawks came up empty on that advantage, but DeBrincat’s goal not long after changed the crowd’s mood and momentum.
“It’s DeBrincat’s goal. That was the spark. [It was] like, OK, we have a tight game right now, we sat and [thought] about it in the locker room: just go out there and play,” Anisimov said. “It was an important goal for our team game and at the end of the period it gives us a little boost for the third period and we just kept going.”
The Blackhawks needed to reverse their fortunes. There wasn’t much working for them lately; on nights when Corey Crawford was outstanding they couldn’t score and when they did erupt for seven goals on Sunday he had an off night. On Wednesday the Blackhawks were more opportunistic, less panicky when the Rangers started to come back in the third period and composed enough to get a much-needed two points.
And it all started with that DeBrincat goal.
“I think it was kind of a lucky one, just a shot on net trying to create something and it happened to squeak through and gave us a lot of momentum there,” DeBrincat said. “Shoot the puck is the lesson there: good things can happen when you shoot the puck on net."