CALGARY – Alex Nylander was one of a handful of struggling Blackhawks players to hit the score sheet on Saturday night.
Led by Nylander’s two goals, Chicago snapped a five-game winless skid with an 8-4 victory over the Calgary Flames.
After entering the night with two goals in his previous 34 games, Nylander scored twice in the second period as the Blackhawks took advantage of several defensive miscues to outscore the Flames 4-1 in the middle stanza, despite being outshot 14-7.
“I’ve been working hard since the break in practice,” said the 21-year-old left winger. “Nice to get some goals tonight.”
Alex DeBrincat — who scored 41 goals last season — scored his 14th of the season and rookie Kirby Dach, who had one goal in his previous 20 games, also sniped his eighth of the year.
“Scoring goals gives you a ton of energy. It gives you a lift. It’s nice to see them get a few,” said Jonathan Toews, who had a goal and two assists. “Even if you’re on the ice and have nothing to do with the play, just to be around goals is infectious. It’s nice to see those guys make those plays as a result of their hard work.”
After Brandon Saad broke a 2-2 tie at 4:24 of the second, Nylander gave the visitors their first two-goal lead just over a minute later, pouncing on a bad giveaway in front by Dillon Dube and beating David Rittich with a move to his backhand.
That ended the night for Rittich, who was replaced by Cam Talbot after allowing four goals on 15 shots.
Elias Lindholm’s first of two goals got Calgary back to within one at 10:56, but goals 27 seconds apart late in the period by DeBrincat and Nylander made it 6-3 after 40 minutes.
“I didn’t think we did enough things at the puck, I didn’t think we moved our feet as well as we could have, I didn’t think we won as many battles as we needed too,” said Flames interim head coach Geoff Ward. “We didn’t generate very much offensively in the first two periods because we didn’t have the puck an awful lot.”
Dominik Kubalik and Patrick Kane, who also added two assists, rounded out the scoring for Chicago (26-24-8). The Blackhawks wrap up a five-game road trip Sunday night in Winnipeg.
Sam Bennett also had two goals for Calgary (30-24-6). The Flames home-ice woes continue as they are now winless in their last five games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“Obviously our details are way off at home,” Lindholm said. “Losing the third guy and leaving the (defencemen) for 3-on-2s or 2-on-1’s.”
Michael Stone, Rasmus Andersson and Matthew Tkachuk were also guilty of turnovers deep in their own end that lead to Chicago goals.
“It’s a little frustrating right now,” Bennett said. “We pushed back after they scored early. For whatever reason, our defensive zone and our turnovers, we fell apart and gave up way too many odd-man rushes and good looks and they capitalized.”
The Flames remain in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, but Arizona, Nashville, Winnipeg, Minnesota and Chicago are all closing in. The Blackhawks are six points back of the Flames with two games in hand.
“Big two points, gets us back in the mix,” said Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton. “We did a lot of things well, as it’s never perfect but the compete level was really good, obviously we got some big goals, started the game with a big goal.”
Despite Talbot coming off a 44-save shutout on Thursday in Anaheim, Ward started Rittich, who gave up a goal 30 seconds in when Toews skated down the wing and put a slapshot over his shoulder.
Calgary is 3-8-2 in its last 13 games at home.
“It sucks, especially at home,” Tkachuk said. “We want to make this place a real tough place to play and for some reason right now, we’re just not having success.”
Robin Lehner turned aside 38 shots for the victory to improve to 16-9-5.
Talbot allowed four goals on 13 shots to take the loss and fall to 8-9-1.
Calgary continues to be without its top two defenceman in Mark Giordano (hamstring) and Travis Hamonic (upper body), who remain out indefinitely.
Notes: Lindholm extends his point streak to 10 games (7-5-12), which ties his career-high… Kubalik’s 23rd goal leads all rookies… Flames C Derek Ryan (flu) missed his first game of the season… Chicago C Zack Smith (hand) did not play. He was replaced by Matthew Highmore.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2020.