Line combinations don’t matter except for when they do.
After separating Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome for a few games, Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton paired them together on the “fourth line” with center Ryan Carpenter. The move paid off as DeBrincat and Strome combined for three goals in a 5-1 win over the Kings on Sunday at the United Center.
DeBrincat scored and assisted on both of Strome’s goal. Slater Koekkoek had two assists and Robin Lehner stopped 38 of 39 shots for the Blackhawks (3-5-2), who snapped a four-game skid.
Lehner made 25 saves and held a shutout until 3:35 into the third period when Sean Walker blasted a one-timer into the net. Jack Campbell made 21 stops for the Kings (4-8), who have lost three straight and six of eight.
DeBrincat and Strome started things quickly with the opening goal at 2:33. DeBrincat sent a pass to the slot to Strome, who dragged the puck to the slot around a sliding Adrian Kempe before firing a wrister past Campbell.
Lehner kept the Kings off the scoreboard with two saves on Dustin Brown in close while on the penalty kill. The Blackhawks had two power plays of their own in the opening period, but couldn’t generate many chances.
Alex Nylander started off a strong second period for himself when he stumbled in front of the net, but was able to slide a pass to Kampf, who scored his first of the season to double the lead just 2:26 into the frame.
On his next shift, Nylander made a strong defensive play to break up Brown’s scoring chance in front of Lehner. Nylander kept his play rolling when he corralled a puck in the neutral zone and had a 2-on-1 with Dominik Kubalik and fired a shot on net instead of dropping a pass to Kubalik.
How about the defense from Nylander here too? pic.twitter.com/3cZGwk5h3O— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) October 28, 2019
DeBrincat and Strome linked up for the second time at 15:55 when the former forced a turnover against Jeff Carter below the goal line then fed Strome, who ripped home a wrister into the twine to extend the lead to 3-0.
Strome rewarded DeBrincat for his hardwork with 58 seconds remaining in the second when he chipped a backhanded pass to the slot for DeBrincat to snap a wrister by Campbell.
Walker cut the lead to 4-1 with a blast from the top of the right face-off circle past a screened Lehner. Drake Caggiula regained the four-goal cushion at 17:53 when the puck bounced off his skate past Campbell.
Dennis Gilbert slotted into the lineup for veteran Brent Seabrook, who was a healthy scratch for the second time in his NHL career. Gilbert posted a 35.71 Corsi-For rating and was on ice for seven shots for and 12 shots against in 14:51 minutes with a team-high 15 on the fly starts. It was Gilbert’s third NHL game and his first game since he was recalled when Connor Murphy (groin) was placed on long-term injured reserve.
- Robin Lehner (CHI) — 38 saves (10 high-danger saves at 5-on-5), 2.23 xGA
- Alex DeBrincat (CHI) — 1 goal, 2 assists, 1 giveaways, 1 takeaways
- Dylan Strome (CHI) — 2 goals, 1 assist, 75 FO% (3 of 4), 1 takeaway
The Blackhawks have Monday off before they begin a four-game road trip Tuesday by facing the Predators in Nashville.