MONTREAL—It was only a matter of time before Alex DeBrincat scored his first NHL goal.The 5-foot-7 right winger, who was a scoring machine for the Erie Otters in junior hockey, got his first as a Blackhawk and set up one for Artem Anisimov as the Hawks spoiled the Montreal Canadiens’ home opener with a 3-1 victory on Tuesday night.And tallying his first against a Vezina Trophy winner like Carey Price made it that much better.
”It’s pretty cool,” said DeBrincat. ”He’s a great goalie. I was lucky enough to get one past him.”
The 19-year-old DeBrincat was drafted 39th overall by the Hawks in 2016, on a pick obtained in a trade from Montreal, in the midst of a junior career that saw him score 167 goals in 193 games over three seasons for Erie.Last season, he was voted top player in the Ontario Hockey League after a 65-goal season.So it was no surprise for him to find the net at the next level of hockey.
”You want to score your first goal but you know it’s not going to be easy,” the Michigan native said. ”I tried to keep it out of my mind. It was bound to come sooner or later.”
Brandon Saad also scored for thge Hawks (3-0-1), which was coming off an overtime loss Monday night in Toronto.Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal (1-3-0) when he picked off a Ryan Hartman pass in the Blackhawks zone, wheeled and scored on a wrist shot inside the near post 1:15 into the game.Patrick Sharp intercepted a Jordie Benn clearing attempt and fed DeBrincat for a one-timer goal at 17:53. Only 19 seconds later, Saad got this fifth goal of the season on a tap-in while finishing a three-man rush with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik.DeBrincat made the decisive pass in a tic-tac-toe play with Cody Franson that Anisimov finished with a tap-in on a power play 10:44 into the second frame.The Canadiens, who outshot the Blackhawks 42-25, have lost three in a row and scored only four goals in as many games. They went 0 for 5 on the power play and are now 0 for 14 for the season.Coach Claude Julien juggled his lines halfway through the game, which produced several good chances but no goals against Corey Crawford, who shut Montreal down after the early Plekanec goal.
”Confidence is low now,” said Julien. ”We have to fight our way through this. ”We don’t want to make excuses, we want to find solutions. That’s how you become a mentally hard team. We could use some puck luck, but there are lots of things we can do about it. I see the potential on this team that we are going to turn this around. We don’t lack confidence, we’re just squeezing the stick a little.”
The Blackhawks host Minnesota on Thursday.