Keeping Pace, Welcome Back Vinnie, Kane Joins 50-Point Club, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Keeping Pace, Welcome Back Vinnie, Kane Joins 50-Point Club, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

With the 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars last night, the Chicago Blackhawks kept pace in the Central Division playoff race. The Nashville Predators came back from a late third period 2-1 deficit to the Detroit Red Wings to win 3-2 in the shootout, while the Columbus Blue Jackets got a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Chicago remains two points back of the Predators in fourth-place and three points ahead of the Blue Jackets in sixth-place.

•   The win was highlighted by a fast start from the Blackhawks as they thought they had gotten on the board just minutes into the contest as Kirby Dach set up Patrick Kane for what would have been the game’s opening goal. Unfortunately, Dach was ruled offsides on the play after the Stars challenged.

•   Nevertheless, Dach and Kane would reconnect later in the period, this time it would be Kane setting up the 20-year-old Dach for his first goal of the season to give Chicago the opening lead.

•   The finish on the goal was spectacular, and all the more impressive for Dach just a day after saying he has still been playing through pain in his wrist. He made it look easy there on his first of the season.

•   With an assist on the play, Patrick Kane notched his 50th point of the season. He would later score the empty-net goal to seal the win for his 51st point of the year. With those two points, Kane joined Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the 50-point club this season as the top three scorers in the NHL. Kane also tied Bobby Hull for the second-most 50-point seasons in Blackhawks franchise history.

•   Seeing Dach get on the scoresheet last night was encouraging. He had shot out of the gate in his first game looking like he hadn’t missed a beat. Then took the next few games to get a rhythm. As he continues to play and continues to heal, the Blackhawks will likely continue to lean on him for significant minutes. He centered a line with Kane and Alex DeBrincat last night, expect that to continue through the rest of the year after night’s like last night.

•   In his return to the Blackhawks, newly reacquired Vinnie Hinostroza made an immediate impact.

•   In his tenth game this season, Hinostroza tallied his first point of the year. Things didn’t work out for him in Florida, where he played in only nine games, but he has a big opportunity coming back to Chicago to a familiar team and coach.

•   Hinostroza played 9:47 minutes last night, tallied the assist on the Dominik Kubalík goal, and registered two shots on goal and three hits in the game.

•   Rounding off the significant scoring for the Blackhawks through the first two periods, Alex DeBrincat notched his 20th goal of the season with a fantastic defensive swipe and snipe.

•   DeBrincat has now scored 20 or more goals in three of his four NHL seasons with the Blackhawks and likely would have reached the 20-goal marker last season, had it not bee cut short. DeBrincat is shooting at 17.9% this season, a stark contract to his 8.7% last year. He is scoring on pace for 45 goals over an 82-game season, and is fourth in the NHL this season in goal scoring.

•   The Blackhawks are in the playoff chase and have been for some time now. Every game, like last night, is going to feel like a playoff game since there are more than just two points on the line each night. With every game against a Central Division opponent this season, now more than ever, each game will be worth a four-point swing.

•   Kevin Lankinen is going to see a lot of action for the Blackhawks as we head down the final stretch of the season. He has made the last four starts in a row and 11 of the last 13 for Chicago. He is 14-10-4 this season with a .918 save percentage and a 2.69 GAA and has the most starts of any rookie goaltender this season (28), with the second-most wins.

•   One area the Blackhawks must clean-up is their sloppiness on the powerplay. After going 0-for-3 last night, the Blackhawks have gone just 1-for-17 on the powerplay in their last six games. They have allowed more short-handed goals in those six games than they have scored powerplay goals after giving up a second shorty in back-to-back games.

•   For a team that was once the top powerplay in the league, this is a turn of events that will need to be addressed if they are to keep pace in the Central Division playoff race.

•   A note from last night, although he had a false positive test that led to him being removed from the Stars-Hurricanes game on Sunday, Dallas head coach Rick Bowness was not with the team in Chicago last night. It appears now, he’ll be back behind the bench for Thursday’s contest.

•   That’s all for today, have yourselves a Wednesday!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.