Blackhawks

Marko Dano takes advantage of 'lottery' line opportunity

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Marko Dano takes advantage of 'lottery' line opportunity

Marko Dano got a big smile on his face when talking about his linemates. The new kid in town drew Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews.

“I was thinking this is going to be fun,” Dano said with a laugh. “They’re great players and there’s a lot I can learn from them, so I’m real excited about being on a line with them.”

It was a pretty nice start for Dano, whose weekend included three goals in one scrimmage.  

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As one of the players acquired from Columbus for Brandon Saad, it’s fitting that, at least for now, Dano is taking Saad’s place on the top line. As coach Joel Quenneville quipped, “that’s the lottery spot when you get to play on that line.” Dano’s usually a right wing but he doesn’t mind playing on the left, and Quenneville said Dano’s skills are evident.

“Watching him in practice prior to getting on the ice I noticed his quickness, I know he had a little pace to him,” Quenneville said. “He’s definitely got some size. He doesn’t look like he’s that big but he’s powerful. He may be low in stature but he’s thick and he’s big and he’s got some strength in the puck area.”

For Dano, the chance to learn from Toews and Hossa, especially Hossa – Dano’s father played with Hossa many years ago, and the two live in the same city in Slovakia – is gratifying. Nevertheless, there is a daunting quality joining two of the best players in the league.

“It’s a little bit hard from the beginning, but with every practice, with every scrimmage it’s coming easier,” Dano said on Saturday. “We started today like yesterday [we] were a little bit struggling with looking at each other on the ice. We were trying to find ourselves. But today we saw each other a little bit better and we had a couple points out there.”

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So this combination could work?

“I don’t see why not,” Toews said. “He’s a good young player, big and strong, and he has a good shot. Obviously there’s a lot of potential there. You make sure he’s comfortable so he doesn’t have to think too much. I can imagine what it’s like to come in and play with a couple of top-line guys. My mentality, if I were in that position, would be to think about getting the two players the puck all the time; got to reassure him to just keep thinking about making the right play and if he does that, he’ll be fine. Combinations can change, but it’s exciting to see what can happen in that regard.”

Dano got off to a great start, getting a chance on the top line and getting a few goals. Sure, those goals were early training camp goals. But for a player trying to adjust to a new team, systems and linemates, you take every positive.

“With every goal that we score on the ice, it doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage or preseason game, the confidence is going higher and also the chemistry,” Dano said. “It’s a good thing we can score goals from the beginning of the season and [we’ve] just got to work hard and keep going.”

Four takeaways: Kirby Dach holds his own in NHL debut but Blackhawks fall to Capitals

Four takeaways: Kirby Dach holds his own in NHL debut but Blackhawks fall to Capitals

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks left wanting more

The Blackhawks were easily the better team at even strength against one of the deepest teams in the NHL. They led in total shot attempts (84-49), shots on goal (44-30), even-strength scoring chances (36-20) and even-strength high-danger chances (16-9), according to Natural Stat Trick, but couldn't pull out a win.

The Blackhawks put up 44 shots on goal against a Capitals team that allowed the second-fewest shots per game (27.8) going into the matchup. They deserved a better fate.

"I think we dictated most of the play tonight and we weren't rewarded for it, but that's the way hockey works sometimes," Drake Caggiula said. "You don't always get the bounces, you don't always get the results you're looking for, even if you play the prototypical game or the perfect game. We didn't get rewarded tonight but this is something we can build off of heading into the next one."

2. Kirby Dach's NHL debut

After being sidelined for the first week of training camp and working his way back from a concussion, the Blackhawks' No. 3 overall pick finally made his much-anticipated NHL debut. And he held his own.

Dach centered the second line with Dylan Strome playing left wing and Patrick Kane in his usual spot at right wing. He had one shot attempt, one takeaway and went 1-for-5 at the faceoff circle in 13:41 of ice time. His only noticeable blemish was not picking up Alex Ovechkin in time before he rifled a shot past Corey Crawford.

"Obviously you want to win in your first game in and help the team that way, but I felt good out there," Dach said. "But at the same time, there's things I can clean up in my game to kind of help the team moving forward."

3. Special teams is the difference

The reason the Blackhawks lost this game was their lack of success on special teams. The Capitals went 1-for-1 on the power play and scored a shorthanded goal while the Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the power play, which included a four-minute double minor in the second period.

It was unfortunate because the Capitals entered Sunday's matchup with a +11 goal differential and +44 shot differential in the second period and a -5 goal differential and -13 shot differential in the first and third periods combined, but the Blackhawks couldn't capitalize in the middle frame even thought they outshot them 15-9. Caggiula's goal was negated just 1:28 after by Nic Down.

"You can look at in the second there, we had a lot of momentum, give up a shorthanded goal, so we gotta be better in that department," Kane said. "We also gotta be better on the power play. Comes down to things like that, but good team and I thought we had a pretty good effort overall tonight."

4. Third line stands out again

The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad continues to be the driving force on offense for the Blackhawks, especially when it comes to possession. They were on the ice for 22 shot attempts for and nine against, 14 scoring chances for and four against, six high-danger chances for and one against, and one goal for and zero against in 9:07 of 5-on-5 ice time. 

Kubalik led the charge with 14 shot attempts (10 on goal) and scored a greasy goal to pull the Blackhawks within one in the third period. Kane evened it up shortly after. 

"Turned the game for us," coach Jeremy Colliton said of Kubalik's goal. "I think we were playing well, but they just took it to another level. Not only did they score, but it was an explosive shift there. And it wasn't the only good shift they had, but it really gave us momentum. They've been good."

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Instant reaction: Special teams the difference in Blackhawks loss to Capitals

Instant reaction: Special teams the difference in Blackhawks loss to Capitals

FINAL SCORE:

Capitals 5, Blackhawks 3

Snap judgments:

— The Blackhawks won the even-strength battle, but special teams was the story of the game. The Capitals went 1-for-1 on the power play while the Blackhawks went 0-for-5 and gave up a shorthanded goal.

— Kirby Dach made his NHL debut and held his own, centering the second line alongside Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome. He had one shot attempt, one takeaway and one blocked shot in 13:41 of ice time. He also went 1-for-5 in the faceoff circle with his sole win coming on the opening draw of the game.

— The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad was excellent. They controlled 70.9 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts and 77.8 percent of the 5-on-5 scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. Kubalik had a game-high 10 shots on goal.

Three stars:

1. Capitals RW Tom Wilson — Game-winning goal, three shot attempts (two on goal), four blocked shots, three hits and two takeaways in 16:48 of ice time

2. Capitals G Braden Holtby — Stopped 41 of 44 shots for a save percentage of .932

3. Blackhawks RW Dominik Kubalik — One goal, 14 shot attempts (10 on goal), two hits and one takeaway in 14:15 of ice time

Must-see highlights:

— Caggiula finishes off pretty goal by fourth line

— Kubalik's second goal of the season

— Kane goes five-hole Holtby to tie it up

What's next:

The Blackhawks host the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.