For the last 10 seconds of the second period Friday night, David Kampf looked like a defensive specialist in the NBA, knees bent, arms outstretched, harassing Jets All-Star Blake Wheeler to the point of exasperation.
Wheeler tried going left, but Kampf was there. He tried going right, but Kampf was there again. He tried wheeling back to the left, but Kampf knocked him to his knees. Two more tries toward the right and the period was over, with Wheeler pressured all the way back from the high slot to the blue line along the boards, and Kampf earning a well-deserved ovation at the end of the best period of his brief NHL career. A goal, an assist, and a 2-1 victory — on his 23rd birthday, no less.
“It’s the best day in my life,” Kampf said.
If the Hawks are going to climb back into the playoff picture and make a run, their biggest stars must lead the way. But depth is every bit as critical as star power in the NHL, and the Hawks’ third line — with Kampf centering newcomer Anthony Duclair and Alex DeBrincat — was a difference-maker in their second impressive win over the division-leading Jets in the past month. It put the Hawks back into the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Duclair, in his debut, had an assist and created several scoring chances, including a partial breakaway in the third.
“He has some offensive flair [and] adds some skill to our team,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought he did a lot of good things.”
On top of the third line, the Hawks got a massive effort from their third-string goalie, as Jeff Glass returned to the net and had a terrific game, making 31 saves. He prevented Marko Dano from scoring on a juicy rebound in the first, stoned Mathieu Perreault from point-blank range on a power play in the second, stopped Kyle Connor on a breakaway right before a Hawks goal later in the second, and made a huge pad stop on Bryan Little on a critical Jets power play late in the third. The Hawks were a perfect 3-for-3 against the Jets’ second-ranked power play.
Winnipeg had scored four or more goals in six of its last seven games.
“He was great today,” Quenneville said. “You like how he battles, how he competes, and he found a way to get us two points.”
Kampf gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead by deflecting a Connor Murphy shot at 4:51 of the second period. Kampf added an assist later in the period when Duclair set up Jan Rutta for a goal to make it 2-0.
Forsling to the rescue
Gustav Forsling made a big save. During a delayed penalty, with Glass on the bench for an extra attacker, Duclair’s pass skittered out of the zone and was headed straight for the net until Forsling raced down the ice and swept it aside just before it went in.
“That would have been bad,” Duclair said with a laugh. “Good back-check by him. I got scared for a little bit.”
Sunday’s game will be the ninth straight missed by Artem Anisimov. But Quenneville was holding out hope that he could return shortly after — or immediately after — next week’s bye week. Anisimov has yet to skate since the injury.
“Hopefully he can play right away after the break, but it might take him a game, I’m not sure,” Quenneville said.
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