Alex DeBrincat lifts Blackhawks over Jets, avenging earlier loss
DeBrincat’s go-ahead goal with 10 minutes left and Marc-Andre Fleury’s 31 saves helped the Hawks win 3-1 on Monday.
The Blackhawks’ second trip to Winnipeg this season proved far more satisfying than their first.
A snipe by Alex DeBrincat gave the Hawks the lead with 10:18 to play, and Marc-Andre Fleury shut the door with 31 saves in a 3-1 win Monday over the Jets, avenging the lifeless 5-1 loss back in November that cost then-coach Jeremy Colliton his job.
“Looking back at that, we obviously didn’t have a great effort, and tonight we played really well,” DeBrincat said. “If we can keep up the structure we’re playing [with] and keep doing everything for the team, we’re going to have a good run here.”
After Mark Scheifele tied the game early in the third, DeBrincat shifted momentum back to the Hawks for good when he caught the Jets on a bad change, took the free offensive-zone entry and released a sizzling wrist shot over Connor Hellebuyck and into the top corner.
The Hawks’ defense locked down the game from there, keeping the Jets’ balanced attack to the outside until Brandon Hagel could seal the win with an empty-netter — which also earned Fleury his first assist of the year.
The Hawks rebounded not only from that November matchup but also from their Saturday “stinker,” in interim coach Derek King’s words, to finish 2-1-0 on the three-game road trip.
“That’s what we talked about from the last game,” King said. “[DeBrincat] wasn’t shooting those pucks. He was cutting across the blue line or looking for somebody late, and the play would get knocked down and they’d go back the other way.
“So what does he do tonight? He starts shooting more; he doesn’t do the lateral plays. We played with our structure, and he played within himself.”
Jonathan Toews — out since Jan. 26 with a concussion — resumed training, King said, although King wasn’t sure if Toews had progressed yet to skating.
“I know he has been training, getting a little sweat, putting a little stress on his body, but I’m not sure how he’s reacting to that,” King said.
Dach to wing?
Toews’ absence has forced the Hawks to keep Kirby Dach at center, despite his awful 33.8% faceoff percentage.
But King admitted that moving Dach to the wing, even though the rest of his playing style matches perfectly at center, might be considered later this season.
“Kirby is such a good skater, [and] he likes to keep his feet moving,” King said. “The wing is more stop-and-start. So center, for now, is a good position. But eventually, as the team gets stronger [with] Toews back, [it] could be a possibility to see him on the wing.”
Carpenter still searching
Ryan Carpenter currently sits atop what could be aptly described as the NHL’s “misery leaderboard” — a ranking of forwards with the most shots on goal without a goal.
The defensive-minded Hawks veteran has recorded 48 shots on goal this season without scoring once, which is a lot more than other top misery contenders at the moment — Flames forward Brett Richie (37 shots) and Coyotes forward Riley Nash (30).
“I had a goal waved off this year, and another one where I celebrated hard but it wasn’t my goal,” Carpenter said Monday. “Sometimes I’ve had periods where I go a long time without scoring, and then sometimes they come in bunches. But my game has always got to be a simple direct game, and all it takes is a rebound or a puck off you with a screen, so if I keep doing the right things, it’ll work out.”