Blackhawks’ Jeremy Colliton didn’t like Tyler Pitlick’s elbow to Connor Murphy

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DALLAS, TEXAS - DECEMBER 20: Connor Murphy #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks reacts after taking a hit against the Dallas Stars in the third period at American Airlines Center on December 20, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775220820

DENVER — Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy appears to be doing well, despite taking an elbow to the face chasing the Stars’ Tyler Pitlick late in the game Thursday. Pitlick tried to get position for a shot and swung his elbow up, which sent Murphy to his knees, bleeding on the ice.

“I didn’t like it,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “I’m not a mind reader. I don’t know if there was any intention there, but you don’t like seeing your guys get hit like that.”

Murphy did not return but did post-game stretches outside the locker room. The initial diagnosis was that he did not suffer a concussion. He started against the Avalanche.

That’s a relief for the Hawks after losing center Marcus Kruger to a concussion when the Predators’ Ryan Hartman unintentionally knocked him down with an elbow Tuesday. Kruger and Corey Crawford are on injured reserve and eligible to return Dec. 27 against the Wild if cleared.

Hot starts

The Hawks have talked about opening games with urgency, and they’re finally doing it.

A team that once seemed allergic to

first-period goals has put together a nice run of them. Alex DeBrincat nailed one eight minutes into the game against Colorado, making it 5 of 6 games the Hawks scored before the first intermission.

They’ve outscored their opponents 9-5 during that stretch, reversing a seasonlong trend that had them getting crushed 47-28.

DeBrincat also struck first against the Stars, doing so on a nifty move out of an offensive-zone faceoff. David Kampf won the draw, Dylan Sikura set up DeBrincat with a little tap, then DeBrincat fired a wrist shot into the net. The sequence took less than two seconds.

“We had a lucky goal there early,” he said. “I think we just kind of fed on that… That was the way we wanted to build the game.”

DeBrincat’s goal against Colorado was his 16th, pulling him even with Jonathan Toews and trailing only Patrick Kane (17).

After beating the Stars, the Hawks were 9-2-4 when they scored first and 3-17-2 when they didn’t.

Delia debuts

Cam Ward came through for the Hawks with a .949 save percentage in the two games since Crawford went down and deserved a break on the second half of a back-to-back. Collin Delia made his appearance of the season on Friday after being called up.


• Blackhawks survive Avalanche for 2-1 victory, first 3-game winning streak

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“We want to get Deals in,” Colliton said. “I think Wardo played really well the first game. We felt like he deserved the chance to go right back [against Dallas]. But we always kind of had the plan Deals would play one of the two games, so here we are.”

Delia stopped the first 16 shots and had 24 saves on 25 shots through two periods.

Gaining ground

The one part of the league the Hawks have handled is their own division. They went into Friday’s game 6-4-2 against the Central and could dig themselves out of last place with a win or overtime loss.

The Blues and Hawks were tied at 30 points coming into Friday. The Blues were off and visit Calgary on Saturday.

The Hawks have taken at least one point in their last division games, including matchups with the top two teams, Winnipeg and Nashville.

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