DeBrincat's big night not enough to lift Chicago Blackhawks

 
 
Updated 3/19/2018 8:44 AM
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  • Chicago Blackhawks right wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues, Sunday, March 18, 2018, in Chicago.

    Chicago Blackhawks right wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues, Sunday, March 18, 2018, in Chicago.

It took Patrick Kane 623 regular-season games before the Chicago Blackhawks superstar recorded his first NHL hat trick. It took Jonathan Toews 124.

As for Alex DeBrincat? Well, he already has three.

In just 73 games.

The third one came Sunday night at the United Center in a disappointing 5-4 overtime loss to St. Louis in which the Blues rallied from a 4-3 deficit by getting goals from Alex Pietrangelo with 1:22 left in regulation and Patrik Berglund with 1:29 left in OT.

DeBrincat, who was in the midst of a 13-game goal drought, gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead with a pair of first-period tallies, then snapped a 3-3 tie with 3:13 left in the third.

"Not too many (rookies) are going to get three hat tricks in a season," coach Joel Quenneville said.

That's for sure -- DeBrincat became the first rookie in team history and the second U.S.-born player (Tony Granato) to accomplish the feat.

The diminutive rookie scored just once in the Hawks' first 12 games, then pumped in 11 in his next 17 and has continued that hot-and-cold trend all season. Before Sunday, he hadn't scored since Feb. 17, failing on the last 24 shots on goal.

"Yeah, a little bit," DeBrincat said when asked if the dry spell was getting to him. "I mean obviously it's frustrating when you go through a slump like that. What I've learned is just stay positive.

"There's other things you can help your team win with. Just focus on those things."

DeBrincat's ability to do those "other things" is what impresses Quenneville so much.

"He's very aware of his positioning, doing the right things, finding pucks, getting in shooting lanes, denying passing lanes," Quenneville said.

DeBrincat has been on the third line most of the season, with Quenneville opting to keep him away from the top defensive pairs. That probably will change next season.

"As he goes along, you'd expect him to be getting tougher matchups and tougher assignments," Quenneville said.

With a late flurry, it's not out of the question that DeBrincat could make a push to win the Calder Trophy. His goal total of 25 is tied with Winnipeg's Kyle Connor. They are both 4 behind Vancouver's Brock Boeser, who is out for the season.

DeBrincat said he didn't have a certain goal total in mind back in October.

"I was just coming into the season trying to make the team," he said. "It's gone better than expected."

J-F Berube started in net and made 36 saves for the Hawks, who are 6-8-1 since snapping an eight-game losing streak. Duncan Keith and Tomas Jurco had 2 assists each, and David Kampf scored the Hawks' other goal.

St. Louis, meanwhile, got a huge 2 points as it attempts to stay in the hunt for the second wild-card spot in the West. In addition to his goal, Pietrangelo added 3 assists, and rookie D-man Vince Dunn had a goal and 3 assists.

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