Blackhawks edge Canadiens as Lukas Reichel makes NHL debut

Reichel played 15:55 and started his career undefeated when Philipp Kurashev’s strange overtime winner lifted the Hawks to a 3-2 victory.

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Lukas Reichel debuted Thursday as the Blackhawks faced the Canadiens.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Ahead of his NHL debut Thursday against the Canadiens, Lukas Reichel looked up at the Blackhawks’ whiteboard of lines, saw Patrick Kane’s name next to his and laughed.

“I was . . . like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s awesome,’ ” he said before the game. “I’m really happy. He’s my favorite player.”

Alongside Kane and Brandon Hagel, the Hawks’ top prospect showed some encouraging flashes, recording three shots on goal in 15:55 of ice time. He also started his career undefeated as the Hawks rallied for a 3-2 victory in overtime.

Kane scored his first goal since Dec. 4 to tie the game in the third period, and Philipp Kurashev scored the strangest of winners — a breakaway gone awry that, two reviews later, was deemed a goal — to secure the Hawks’ third consecutive victory.

“I was yes, and then no again,” Kurashev said. “I was just hoping they were going to count it. Thank God they did at the end.”

“ ‘First game, first win’ — that sounds pretty good,” Reichel said. “The first period was pretty good. In the second, we made a couple of turnovers, let them get the momentum back. In the third, we played pretty good defensively. Overall, [it was] a solid game. And overall for me, too, a solid game.”

Reichel’s agility, creativity and offensive vision were visible, at least during scattered moments. 

The Hawks plan to be patient with him nonetheless. He implied he’ll play again Saturday against the Ducks, then head back to Rockford of the AHL for a while.

“He’s obviously one of our highly skilled prospects coming up, and we want to do it right,” interim coach Derek King said. “There have been years of seeing players get called up early, started too early, and they don’t end up finishing with our team. So this is a chance to do it right by him.”

All-Star Cat

For the first time, Alex DeBrincat is an NHL All-Star. Entering Thursday sitting fourth in the league in goals (23), he was an obvious choice to represent the Hawks during the Feb. 3-6 event in Las Vegas.

The rest of the Central Division team is composed of the Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar, the Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov and Cam Talbot, the Jets’ Kyle Connor, the Coyotes’ Clayton Keller, the Blues’ Jordan Kyrou, the Stars’ Joe Pavelski and the Predators’ Juuse Saros.

Seth Jones, meanwhile, is a candidate for the “Last Man In” spot that’ll be determined by fan vote.

COVID’s rotating door

The Hawks got three players back from COVID-19 protocols Wednesday and Thursday — then promptly put two new players on the list. Hagel, Erik Gustafsson and newly-acquired Sam Lafferty all returned, but Dylan Strome and Kirby Dach were ruled unavailable shortly because of COVID before game time. Kurtis Gabriel, who was assigned to Rockford on Wednesday, was also added to the list.

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