Before heading into their bye week, the Chicago Blackhawks faced off against the Detroit Red Wings. The scene that unfolded was not pretty for the Blackhawks and the lopsided final score of four to zero was a clear indication of how the two teams had played. Though the Hawks had almost a full week’s rest following that game, their mindset stayed with it and they lost their next three games in a row after coming back. Their last game before another break, this time for the All-Star Weekend, was once again against the Red Wings. The Hawks knew they had to change their performance from their last game if they wanted to win and this time it showed that they came prepared.

The final score of five to one signaled a big shift for the Blackhawks. They had not put themselves in the right mindset going into the last break and with room for errors quickly running out, the Hawks had to find a big win this week. That win came thanks to the team round efforts from the likes of Vinnie Hinostroza and newcomer Anthony Duclair. Though the Red Wings did eventually score during the game, the Hawks were able to keep them off the board for the majority of the time and only allowed the one goal while on the penalty kill.

Though the win was a moment of celebration for the entire team, the night was perhaps most special for rookie Alex DeBrincat. The 20-year old helped bring in the win, notching his second career hat trick in front of family and friends in the area he grew up in. The feat marked a big milestone, as DeBrincat is the first rookie to tally multiple hat tricks in over twenty years. His first hat trick came in November, when the Blackhawks smoked the Anaheim Ducks with a score of seven to three. In addition to the hat trick, DeBrincat also assisted on Duclair’s first goal with the Hawks. The goal ended up being the game-winner and helped add to the big rush of momentum that gave the Hawks their great first-period start.

The night was also a big moment for goaltender Anton Forsberg, who got the chance to shine and take home a win under his belt. The season has had it’s ups and downs for the goalie, who first came to the team as Corey Crawford’s back-up. With Crawford out of the lineup, the team has been switching between Jeff Glass and Forsberg. Unfortunately, Forsberg has not had as many good showings as Glass and needed a game to get his confidence up. This game proved to be just the case that he needed. He made 23 saves and it seemed like he would earn a shutout. Unfortunately that bid was cut short at the end of the game, but his ability to hold the Red Wings to only one goal was a much different story than from when the two teams last met up.

The Blackhawks need to continue having stand-out guys like DeBrincat and Forsberg if they want to keep their season alive. Captain Jonathan Toews, Duclair, and DeBrincat all ended the night as plus 4, showing that there are skills to be offered and plays ready to be made. They’re still in a very dangerous position, teetering on the edge of completely missing playoffs, so another big shift needs to happen. The game against the Red Wings proved they still have life and that they have the ability to win big games. Following All-Star Weekend, they’ll face their Central Division opponents, the Nashville Predators and next week, the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild. Though they’ll face other teams as well, those points against division teams will be the most important, especially given how tightly things are knit. Crunch time is here and the Blackhawks are prepared to face it, but they have to play things safely and in the correct matter if they plan on scraping out some big wins.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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