SEATTLE — The Blackhawks’ best players delivered the plays they needed to deliver Wednesday in a 4-2 win over the Kraken.
Outside of a few moments of magic, the Hawks struggled to possess the puck or dictate the pace of play against a relentless if success-deprived Seattle team. They were out-shot 30-11 over the second and third periods, after all.
But when they get three goals the way they did Wednesday — one by Patrick Kane, one by Alex DeBrincat and one set up by both Kane and DeBrincat — along with 31 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury, they’re going to win most nights.
“These guys, they’re coming together,” interim coach Derek King said. “They’re finding ways to win.”
“It’s nice,” DeBrincat added. “You go through streaks where you’re comfortable with the puck. And obviously playing with Kane, he gets you the puck in good spots, so [it] gives you a little bit more time and space.”
Since King’s takeover, the Hawks are now a perfect 4-0-0, undefeated all-time against the Kraken — in one all-time meeting, to be fair — and now finally owners of a road win, as well.
Transition rushes have been the Hawks’ one area of consistent dominance the past few seasons. Their lack of finishing and execution with those contributed to their slow start offensively this fall, but Kane and DeBrincat’s reunion over the past few weeks has greatly increased the frequency of counterattacking opportunities again.
Seth Jones’ increasing comfort level has added another dimension, too, whether he’s jumping in as a late trailer or outright leading the attack as a defenseman. He scored his second goal of the season (his 14th point in 16 games) in the first period when his center-lane drive opened up space for a beautiful passing play from Kane to DeBrincat to him.
“We’re a good transition team,” Kane said. “That’s the thing: If we can get some more chances like that, some stops in our end, [we’ll do well]. We’ve been talking about using the active defensemen and you saw that on the first goal. Jones did a great job of driving the middle, pushing that guy back and you’re able to go cross-ice a couple times and you get the tap-in.”
The Hawks extended the lead to 3-0 early in the third period before the Kraken pushed back furiously late, engaging their eighth consecutive sellout crowd of 17,151 and pulling within a goal for a hair-raising minute until Jake McCabe’s empty-net goal squashed the comeback.
DeBrincat finished with a “Gordie Howe hat trick” by fighting constant Hawks pesterer Yanni Gourde earlier in the third period.
“He punched me in the head behind the net and then went after Kane and cross-checked him,” DeBrincat said. “[If] you go after our best player, we can’t let that happen. Just decided to go. I don’t really like to fight, but I will when I need to.”