Kirby Dach Chicago Blackhawks #77 Jerseys China

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Kirby Dach Chicago Blackhawks #77 Jerseys China

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The Blackhawks know better by now.

They know that even after winning a couple of tough road games in a row, including Saturday’s thrilling come-from-behind 5-3 victory over the Avalanche, nothing matters until they do it consistently.

But coming back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to beat the Avs should provide some momentum.

“We can’t get too high on ourselves,” Kirby Dach told NBC Sports Chicago after Saturday’s game. “We’ve kind of had a streaky year where we win a bunch of games and tend to lose a couple. We’ve got to find a way to find the standard every night and keep playing the same way.”

The Hawks also won a pair of road games earlier this month against the Bruins and Devils, then returned to the United Center and lost four in a row.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s win:

1. Kirby Dach had his best game of the season.


The first 15 games of Kirby Dach's career were filled with the ups and downs you would expect from an 18-year-old rookie.

The little ice time he had was spent trying to get comfortable with new teammates and a league in which the speed is hard to fathom. But even with those growing pains, Dach managed to put up a few points.

He had five goals and five assists in those initial 15 games and never went more than three games without making the scoresheet.

The next 15 games were a different story. Dach failed to register a single point even as he started to play a little more. The scoring slump brought out questions about whether he was ready for the NHL or if he might benefit from playing in the World Juniors with Team Canada to get his confidence back.

But the fact is that his confidence never left him. So when Dach scored the tying goal in the third period Saturday, it was less a sigh of relief and more an opportunity to show the slump hadn’t got him down.

“I’ve been through this before (being) in a scoring slump,” Dach told NBC Sports Chicago after the game. "I think as a skilled player, if you want to say that, or a guy who’s supposed to put up points, the biggest thing is not to get frustrated and not change anything. You’ve just got to keep being you and keep playing your way because eventually the puck’s going to find your stick and go in.

“It might not be the prettiest goal or the prettiest assist, but you’re going to find a way to get off that and from there on just roll with it and keep playing the way you’ve been playing before that.”

2. Duncan Keith’s leadership while he was injured was missed as much as his play.


It would be understandable if the last few weeks were trying ones for Duncan Keith.

He dealt with a groin injury that cost him nine games and watched as longtime teammate Brent Seabrook was benched for a game then missed the recent two-game trip with nagging injuries.

Yet since Keith’s return, he has seemed happy, rejuvenated and not at all frustrated over the uncomfortable Seabrook situation. After Wednesday’s loss to the Avalanche at the United Center, Keith challenged the Hawks to be better.

“We’ve got to get a little more emotion,” he said. “It’s not going to just turn around, it’s not going to just happen. We need to make it happen. We need to get a little pissed off.”

Whether credit goes to Keith or not, the Hawks were better in a 4-1 win over the Jets on Thursday and had one of their best all-around games of the season in beating the Avalanche on Saturday. Keith was happy with the pairing of rookie Adam Boqvist the last few games.

“You get a little different perspective,” Keith told NBC Sports Chicago. "I enjoy playing with Boqi. He complements my game and we work good together. He’s a good puck mover. I try to embrace that role of kind of mentoring guys like him and Dacher. I enjoy it. I’ve got a young son and those guys are closer to my son’s age than me. It’s fun.

“I think it’s what the team needs out of me. Those guys have been playing good and I think the team’s benefiting from that too.”

Keith played a little under his season average of 23 minutes, 51 seconds his first two games back, but on Saturday he played 26:24 and played in all situations.

“We know when you’re without him you realize — not that we didn’t before — but it certainly underlines what a big part of our team he is,” Jeremy Colliton said. "Especially the last two games he’s been outstanding and makes a huge difference. I thought Boqvist played great, too. Pretty nice for him to have a partner like that but I thought he keeps getting better and better.

3. Dylan Sikura saw his first playing time since Dec. 10 — and barely saw the ice.

The loss of Brandon Saad appeared to create an opportunity for Dylan Sikura, perhaps even to score the first goal of his career.

That opportunity may still come but it didn’t arrive Saturday. Sikura only played 6:57 and skated just three shifts after the first period, including just one shift during the third.

The decision was driven in large part because the Hawks trailed and Jeremy Colliton wanted to get Patrick Kane as much ice time as he could. Sikura wasn’t the only player to barely play in the final period. Alex Nylander skated just two shifts in the third after playing a combined 13 shifts over the first two periods.

Circumstances dictate what happens in games, and getting Sikura ice time wasn’t a priority. With Saad on injured reserve and guaranteed to be out at least a few more games, the Hawks could call up another forward from Rockford who could knock Sikura out of the lineup.

Here’s coverage from Saturday’s game:

The fourth and final meeting of the season between the Hawks and Avalanche — all of which took place over the last 23 days — ended in dramatically different fashion to the first three with the Hawks erupting for four third-period goals Saturday in a 5-3 victory at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Dominik Kubalik’s 10th goal completed a comeback from a 3-1 third-period deficit to give the Hawks their first win over the Avs after being outscored 16-6 in the first three meetings. It was the first time in 15 games this season the Hawks won when trailing after two periods.

After being outmatched in the first three meetings, the Hawks on Saturday delivered on what Duncan Keith talked about earlier in the week when he said they needed to play “a little pissed off.”

Trailing 3-1 entering the third, the Hawks roared back to it when Patrick Kane and Kirby Dach scored 28 seconds apart midway through the period.

After Kane scored his 20th of the season, Dach used his long reach to corral pass from Erik Gustafsson and sweep the puck into the net at a nearly impossible angle.

With 3 minutes, 17 seconds remaining, Jonathan Toews found Kubalik in the slot, and he buried a wrist shot past Philipp Grubauer to give the Hawks their first lead. Connor Murphy’s empty-netter sealed the Hawks’ third win in their last four.

The expected battle between Alex DeBrincat and Samuel Girard never materialized. But both teams played a physical game, especially in a wildly entertaining second period.

Duncan Keith put a crunching hit on Joonas Donskoi, and Dennis Gilbert fought Gabriel Landeskog in a long scrap that ended in a draw. It was Gilbert’s third fight in nine games.

Ryan Graves had the only goal of the first period, but the Hawks tied it 21 seconds into the second on Toews’ eighth of the season.

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