Rookie Kirby Dach became the sixth youngest player in Blackhawks history to score his first goal. It wasn’t enough to defeat the Golden Knights.
“It was a pretty cool moment,” Dach said. “[I] grew up dreaming of playing in the NHL, and two games in, you’ve got your first goal. That’s pretty special, but at the same time, pretty disappointed that we lost. My main focus is the team game, so I’ve got to take a step back and realize what I can do better to help the team win and move forward tomorrow.”
Dach would open the scoring off a shot by Olli Maatta with just under 4 minutes left in the first period. It was not the prettiest of goals, but Dach was rewarded for being in the right place at the right time. His speed through the neutral zone and his willingness to crash the net was evident throughout, as he displayed more confidence compared to his debut.
“He’s playing well,” Coach Jeremy Colliton said, “He made a lot of plays, again, and probably could’ve had more points; could’ve produced more offense for us — so, just keep going. He’s going to keep improving also.”
With less than 2 minutes remaining and an extra attacker for Vegas, defenseman Nick Holden would tie the game and defenseman Shea Theodore would seal the win in the shootout. It was only fitting that legendary Blackhawks goalie Tony Esposito was in attendance for this true goalie duel, as both Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner were spectacular all night.
Andrew Shaw, Connor Murphy, and Calvin De Haan continued to provide a physicality that lacked last year for the Hawks. They combined for 12 hits, with De Haan leading the way with 7. Murphy would leave the game in the 3rd period, re-aggravating a groin injury he sustained before the year began. Colliton said he could be out for weeks.
Brandon Saad, Dominik Kubalik, and Ryan Carpenter also had strong games. In the second period, Saad gained an ovation from the crowd for his work on the penalty kill, which was a perfect 4-4 overall. The Hawks’ power play would not fare as well, going 0-4.
Thursday night’s game against Philadelphia will mark the seventh and final game of the Blackhawks’ home stretch. They are 2-2-2 on the stretch and 2-3-2 overall. The Hawks will look to avenge the loss they suffered to Philadelphia in the 2019-2020 season opener in Prague.
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