For the first time in more than two weeks, the Blackhawks went to sleep Thursday feeling good.
Riley Stillman’s first NHL goal, Alex DeBrincat’s overtime winner and Collin Delia’s 36 saves led the Hawks to a surprising 2-1 win over the Hurricanes, ending their six-game losing streak.
“It’s a nice win for us, no question,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We’re learning, we’re trying to get better all the time. We have these games and we’re going to use them to continue to improve, give guys opportunities, evaluate them and try to keep building. To get some positive reinforcement helps.”
Stillman tied the game by tipping in a Pius Suter wrister with 3:01 left in regulation, avoiding what would’ve been a deflating loss in a game Delia later attested the Hawks “deserved” to win.
They peppered Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek with dozens of dangerous opportunities — with Dominik Kubalik (eight shot attempts) and Patrick Kane (seven) leading the way — and finished with 34 scoring chances, tied for their sixth-most in 54 games this season.
For as poorly as the season’s second half has gone — and as meaningless as that made this week in Carolina — the Hawks sorely needed a lift before the long offseason ahead. They got that Thursday and will be able to build on it in front of home fans for their final two games.
Delia, who earned his first win since February 2019, finished with a .939 save percentage in the three-game series. His 153 consecutive minutes of goaltending after more than three months out of the rotation were tiring, he admitted, but provided the sweetest redemption.
“When you can get into that rhythm, you start to see the puck well,” he said. “The puck seems big, it seems slow. You’re able to read the situations coming at you, and the lag time in your decision-making grows less and less.”
“You can’t ask for more from him in these 2½ games,” Colliton added.
Dach, Keith, Connolly likely done
Kirby Dach missed his second consecutive game and will miss the Hawks’ last two games because of aggravated scar tissue in his surgically repaired right wrist.
Hawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry described it as “post-operative discomfort.”
Veterans Duncan Keith and Brett Connolly both suffered concussions Thursday and seem unlikely to play in the last two games, as well.
Dach finished with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 18 games this season and gradually improved, although he never returned to his dominant 2020 playoffs level.
“It was important for him to come back and play,” Colliton said. “It’s a long time to not play any games otherwise. He got better as time went on. At this point, it’s just being safe. But [I] expect him to come to camp totally ready to go and be an impact player.”
Prospect defenseman Jakub Galvas, the Hawks’ 2017 fifth-round pick, signed a two-year entry-level contract with a $867,500 salary-cap hit that kicks in next season.
Galvas, 21, has been a productive offensive defenseman the last two seasons with Jukurit in Finland. He previously spent three pro seasons in the Czech Republic.
Galvas needs to bulk up his 5-11, 161-pound frame to survive in the NHL, though, so he’ll likely play in the AHL next season.