NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Kirby Dach was a young man with a plan before his first NHL shootout attempt.
The third overall pick in this year’s draft roofed a shot in the fifth round to lift the Chicago Blackhawks over the New Jersey Devils 2-1 Friday night.
“I had three moves in my head,” the 18-year-old said. “Whatever the goalie bites on, I move to that side. I’ve had a couple of shootouts in junior, and it worked there so I just went back to that. It went it. That was nice.”
Dach didn’t know he was going to participate in the shootout until the coaching staff sent him out to face Mackenzie Blackwood, who had stopped Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome in the third and fourth rounds.
“You get to see what he’s opening up to,” Dach said of watching the others. “I got to see both goals and stopped shots, so that helps me a lot. At the same time, it’s a whole different ballgame once you step out there. It kind of goes out of your head and you’re just focused on scoring.”
Chicago, which beat Boston in overtime Thursday, won its second game in two nights and its first shootout in four attempts this season.
“Traditionally this group has been outstanding in shootouts,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “To be 0-3 was probably untreaded territory for them..”
The coach also liked Dach’s attitude.
“He wants the ball. He wants the goals,” Colliton said. “Those are the type of guys you want to use in those situations because they want to be in that spot, and they are confident and that’s what you need to score. He came through for the team and that was big.”
Corey Crawford preserved the victory by stopping Jack Hughes on the final shootout attempt to cap a night where he won his 250th game. He had 29 saves.
DeBrincat scored in the second period for Chicago, and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also connected in the shootout.
Taylor Hall scored for the Devils, who are 0-2 under interim coach Alain Nasreddine. Blackwood had 28 saves, but he was defenseless when Dach went high on his shootout attempt. Nikita Gusev and Jesper Boqvist scored for New Jersey in the shootout, while Kyle Palmieri and Hall were stopped in addition to Hughes.
Nasreddine like the performance.
“We’re looking for it taking a step in the right direction,” he said. “Overall I thought the first period was good for us. We played the right way and second period, early on OK, but the game got away from us and third was 50-50. I’ll take the effort, but would have been nice to get the two points.”
Hughes, the top pick in this year’s draft, returned to the lineup after missing three games with a lower body injury. Nico Hischier, the No. 1 overall pick in 2017, missed the game with an illness.
The teams were tied at 1 after two periods with both getting power-play goals.
Hall opened the scoring at 13:31 of the first with the Devils on their third power play. He took a pass from Sami Vatanen at the top of the right circle and rifled a shot past a screened Crawford for his fifth goal.
DeBrincat tied it at 9:35 of the second with the Blackhawks their first power play. Blackwood stopped a shot from low in the right circle by Kane, but the rebound came out the other side of the crease and DeBrincat backhanded his seventh of the season into an empty net.
Both goaltenders had some outstanding saves. Blackwood stopped breakaways by Brandon Saad in the first and second periods, while Crawford came up big on a breakaway by Miles Wood late in the second.
DeBrincat has goals in two straight after going 12 without one.
Devils F Wayne Simmonds and Blackhawks D Dennis Gilbert entertained the crowd with good fight in the first period. The teams play again on Dec. 23 in Chicago.
The Devils visit Nashville to start four-game road trip.
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