There’s no way this is sustainable, but it sure is fun.
Playing in their fifth straight overtime game to start the 2018-19 season — an NHL record — the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in yet another wild night of hockey at the United Center.
Alex DeBrincat finished things off in overtime, tapping home the winner after a perfect pass from Erik Gustafsson.
Here's your game winner! Alex DeBrincat with his second of the night! pic.twitter.com/6JqBj3qS2G— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) October 14, 2018
It started just as well for the Hawks, with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane picking up goals in the first period to give Chicago a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Kane’s goal was especially fun to watch, as he gathered a loose puck following a mad scramble during a power play, toe-dragged across half the ice while waiting for an opening and then buried the puck past a bewildered St. Louis defense.
Chicago continued dominating play in the early stages of the second period, but multiple clutch saves by Jake Allen prevented the Hawks from extending their 2-0 lead (more on that below.)
And the Blackhawks’ relationship with leads has not been a healthy one, as Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Potash noted:
The Blackhawks have taken the lead six times this season coming into this game ... and have lost all six leads. https://t.co/gfZ3fMZ8Ka— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) October 14, 2018
So, of course, St. Louis scored the next three goals. Brayden Schenn had two of them, sandwiched around a David Perron power play goal after a mix-up between Blackhawks goaltender Cam Ward and defenseman Brandon Manning behind the net.
But Chicago has also been resilient this season, as Potash also noted:
The Blackhawks have fallen behind seven times coming into this game ... and have rallied to tie all seven times. https://t.co/Yg7J9HA7Jq— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) October 14, 2018
So, of course, the Blackhawks tied the game when DeBrincat took a pass from Toews and rifled one past Allen for a 3-3 deadlock with 6:54 remaining in the game. Neither team could break the tie in regulation, sending the game into overtime before DeBrincat sent the United Center faithful home with a smile.
And now for some thoughts.
Doesn’t look like Alex DeBrincat is going to have a sophomore slump, does it?
Five games with six goals, including a pair of tallies and the game-winner tonight. DeBrincat has been everything Chicago was hoping for since it drafted him in the second round in 2016.
And while much of the talk about DeBrincat revolves around his shot, I’d like to point out his hockey IQ, which was on display during that OT winner. He has a pretty good scoring opportunity before his goal, but the shot is blocked a couple of St. Louis defenders. But DeBrincat had the vision to loop around to the back post and put his stick on the ice, giving Gustafsson an easy lane for a pass to set up a tap-in goal.
And credit Gustafsson for seeing the same thing and making the play.
Instead of defending a two-goal lead ...
Why not defend a four or five-goal lead? The Blackhawks certainly had their chances during the first half of the second period while leading 2-0. This game could’ve been over by the 10-minute park of the second period, as Chicago dominated the first half of it. After two periods, the Hawks held a 50-23 advantage in Corsi events and a 14-4 advantage in high-danger chances (all according to Natural Stat Trick). Good teams finish those chances and put a team away when it’s dominating like that — something for the Hawks to work on over the rest of the season.
Alexandre Fortin had a strong top-six debut
It may not be possible to come any closer to scoring a goal without actually lighting the lamp than Fortin did tonight, hitting the post multiple times in his second NHL game. But the 21-year-old winger did not look out of place while skating on a line with Schmaltz and Kane. In fact, his speed added another element to an already-dangerous line.
- Alex DeBrincat (CHI) — 2 goals, GWG
- Brayden Schenn (STL) — 2 goals
- Artem Anisimov (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist