Alex DeBrincat, Anthony Duclair lead the way as Blackhawks snap four-game skid
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DETROIT — Alex DeBrincat long since has passed the point of being awed by his job. It’s not strange to be on a line with Jonathan Toews. It’s not weird to be buddies with Patrick Kane. It’s not even that big a deal to score three goals against his hometown team in front of family and friends.
No, DeBrincat’s four-point game Thursday was a big deal for one primary reason: It helped the Blackhawks get a desperately needed 5-1 victory against the Red Wings. The result snapped a four-game losing streak and gave them a little hope heading into the All-Star break that maybe the playoffs aren’t out of reach just yet.
‘‘It’s huge,’’ said DeBrincat, a native of Farmington Hills, Michigan. ‘‘All points matter at this point of the season and [with] where we are in the standings.’’
The new top line of DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews and Anthony Duclair looked good against the Maple Leafs; they looked dominant against the Red Wings. Duclair scored his first goal with the Hawks and added two assists, Toews had an assist and all three were plus-4 on the night.
‘‘Some nights you’re going to have a lot of opportunities, but they’re not going to go in,’’ Duclair said. ‘‘You just stay positive. . . . We knew goals were coming. It was just a matter of time.’’
Not much time, actually. DeBrincat snapped a seven-game goal drought with a turnaround shot from the top of the right circle that caught goalie Jimmy Howard by surprise at 3:19 of the first period. DeBrincat set up Duclair’s goal 2½ minutes later, a quick shot from the slot. Vinnie Hinostroza made it 3-0 at 8:47.
And after Toews set up Duclair on a two-on-one that was denied by Petr Mrazek — in for Howard, who gave up three goals on nine shots — Toews found DeBrincat on a beautiful give-and-go to make it 4-0 at 11:31 of the second.
Anthony Mantha spoiled Hawks goalie Anton Forsberg’s shutout bid with a power-play goal at 16:09 of the third, but DeBrincat got his hometown hat trick on an empty-netter with 18.5 seconds left.
And there were smiles in the postgame dressing room for the first time in two weeks.
‘‘It’s been a long time since we won one game,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘Certainly feels a lot different than the experience we’ve had over the last week.’’
Quenneville said he was ‘‘hopeful’’ goalie Corey Crawford, who has been out since Christmas with what three sources described as vertigo-like symptoms, finally could get back on the ice during the All-Star break. If that goes well, the Hawks might take Crawford on their post-break road trip to Nashville, Vancouver and Calgary to monitor his on-ice work.
The Jordan rules
Jordan Oesterle has cemented himself as the Hawks’ No. 2 defenseman in the last two months and has the ice time to prove it. He topped 26 minutes against the Red Wings, the fifth time he has played at least 25 minutes.
‘‘He gets up in the play; that’s what this team needs,’’ partner Duncan Keith said. ‘‘It’s so hard to score five-on-five. You need to have that extra attacker to alleviate some of that pressure. . . . He’s been a real positive for our team.’’
Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.