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Brendan Perlini finds new perspective during frustrating season

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brendan Perlini (11) scores a goal on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton (40) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Chicago. | David Banks/Associated Press

Center Jonathan Toews fired a pass that took a lucky bounce to left wing Brendan Perlini, who spun around and scored the tying goal in the third period of the Blackhawks’ victory Thursday against the Sabres at the United Center.

The goal — Perlini’s third in the last three games — forced overtime, and the Hawks ultimately won 5-4 in a shootout.

The last week has been a breath of fresh air for Perlini, who didn’t play for nearly two weeks before scoring twice last Saturday against the Kings.

‘‘He seems to have a little life, a little more energy,’’ Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. ‘‘He’s got to find a way to get himself going because he can be dynamic. . . . The last few games, he’s shown a little more jam, a little more willingness to get involved and win races and win puck battles. Then it’s no coincidence he’s going to produce.’’

When the Hawks acquired Perlini and center Dylan Strome for center Nick Schmaltz in a trade with the Coyotes in November, he said he was eager for a ‘‘new, fresh opportunity.’’ Perlini, who had 33 goals and 24 assists in two-plus seasons with the Coyotes, thought his shot and speed could give the Hawks a much-needed offensive boost.

But that’s not what happened. Perlini has struggled to find chemistry with his linemates and has six goals and one assist in 32 games with the Hawks.


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Perlini also has seen a significant decline in his ice time since being traded. He went from averaging 14½ minutes with the Coyotes to just less than 10 with the Hawks.

As frustrating as his season has been, Perlini realized he needed to take a step back and loosen up. He recently changed his perspective after watching ‘‘Free Solo,’’ an Oscar-winning documentary about rock climber Alex Honnold, who became the first person to scale Yosemite National Park’s 3,200-foot El Capitan without the aid of a rope, harness or other gear.

‘‘If that guy makes one mistake, he’s dead,’’ Perlini said. ‘‘Sometimes it feels like that for us out there, but you’ve gotta look at the big picture. One mistake is not costing me my life. . . . Mistakes are gonna happen; good things are gonna happen.

‘‘I just have a little bit of a different outlook, playing more relaxed and just kind of letting the chips fall into place. As long as I go out there and work hard for the team and try to give it my best effort, that’s all that matters.’’

Perlini seemingly has found his way out of Colliton’s doghouse. Now he wants it to stay that way.

‘‘I’m trying to play a team game,’’ Perlini said. ‘‘Sometimes the pucks go in, sometimes they don’t. But I’m trying to just work hard at both ends of the ice and do what I can for my teammates, and hopefully we can keep getting the points and moving on.’’

Contributing: Jason Lieser