DENVER – When you were younger, you always wanted to play your best in front of your parents. Whether that was their motivation or not, the Blackhawks’ rookies did that on Tuesday night.
The Blackhawks rookies accounted for five goals, including Vinnie Hinostroza’s game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period, as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-4 on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks, playing the first game on their dads trip, remain in second place in the West. They’re tied in points with the Minnesota Wild but the Wild still have four games in hand.
Tanner Kero had two goals and an assist and Nick Schmaltz, playing in his second game since being recalled from Rockford, had a goal and an assist. Brent Seabrook also scored and Marian Hossa recorded his 600th, 601st and 602nd career assists.
The Blackhawks made line changes to try and spark their offense, especially their top line. But as coach Joel Quenneville always says he’ll take the goals from anyone. On Tuesday, those goals came from the rookies playing on the Blackhawks’ third and fourth lines.
“Good response,” Quenneville said. “We were looking for some scoring from other guys, talking about secondary scoring, and tonight they produced all the goals. Fun night for them and a great third period and comeback for us.”
The Blackhawks needed every bit of that third period, considering their second period was so awful. From bad clearing attempts to pucks not put deep enough in the Avalanche zone, the Blackhawks made mistakes and the Avs capitalized. Colorado scored three goals in the second period, including two in 63 seconds, to take a 4-3 lead after two.
Then came the third period and Hinostroza. His speed is his best asset, and that speed was evident when he chased down a loose puck, got himself a breakaway and scored the tying goal 5:10 into the third period.
“Yeah I thought I would [catch it],” Hinostroza said of that loose puck. “I just saw it flying through the air and thought, ‘this could be a breakaway,’ so I just started trying to skate fast.”
Hinostroza scored what would be the winning goal 3:01 later. Kero added the empty-net goal with 10.6 seconds remaining in the game. Kero’s second goal came off a feed from Jonathan Toews who, despite his goal-scoring struggles this season, passed this chance to the rookie.
“It was a great play, a smart play,” Quenneville said of Toews. “We all know how unselfish he is and he made the right play. He’ll take a point.”
Schmaltz looked great to start this game, scoring his second goal of the season to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. Schmaltz was tentative in his first time up with the Blackhawks, but he didn’t look it in this one.
“I think it’s just trying to get better every game, trying to be responsible defensively and then show off our skill in the offensive zone and play the style of puck-possession game and making plays and getting pucks and bodies to the net,” Schmaltz said of the rookies. “I thought we did a pretty good job tonight.”
The Blackhawks were looking for more scoring with their line changes. They got it from the area they probably weren’t expecting but again, it doesn’t matter who does it.
“For the young guys to chip in, it’s nice,” Hinostroza said. “Hopefully we can keep going forward."