Hinostroza gets right to it in helping Chicago Blackhawks win
All Vinnie Hinostroza wanted was an opportunity.
A chance to prove he still has what it takes to play a significant role.
That's exactly what Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton is giving the Bartlett native -- and Hinostroza certainly didn't disappoint during a 4-2 victory over Dallas at the United Center on Tuesday.
In his first game back with the team that drafted him nine years ago, Hinostroza recorded the primary assist on Dominik Kubalik's goal that gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead at 9:39 of the second period. Kirby Dach, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane also scored, and Kevin Lankinen made 25 saves as the Hawks improved to 18-17-5.
There was some drama down the stretch as Dallas scored short-handed early in the third period, then made it 3-2 with 6:14 remaining. Kane's empty netter with 5.8 seconds remaining sealed the victory.
"It was important for our group and their confidence that we were able to lock it down," Colliton said. "I like that we stuck with it and had some good, strong shifts to close out the game."
It was quite the homecoming for Hinostroza, who was reacquired in a deal with Florida on Saturday.
His highlight-reel moment came after he snared a puck that bounced out of the Hawks' defensive zone. Turning on the jets, Hinostroza raced through the neutral zone on a 2-on-1 with Kubalik. When Dallas defenseman John Klingberg tried closing in, Hinostroza instantly zipped the puck to Kubalik, who buried his 13th goal.
"He was very good," Colliton said. "He brought what we were hoping he would -- skating, pressure and competitiveness. He won a lot of loose pucks and obviously he made a great play on the goal. He had some other chances as well. His pace and puck battles helped our group."
Said Hinostroza: "It felt great to be back here wearing this jersey. Felt great to be playing again."
Hinostroza (2 SOG, 3 hits in 9:47) likely would have had another assist midway through the third period, but Philipp Kurashev's stick exploded on a point-blank one-timer.
"Only thing you can do there is laugh about it," said Hinostroza, who added with a smile: "Maybe next game he won't have a faulty stick."
It was also a big night for Dach, who scored on a gorgeous saucer pass from Kane at 12:13 of the first period. The tally snapped a 17-game goal drought that stretched back to Feb. 15, 2020.
The victory allowed the Hawks (41 points) to remain 2 points behind Nashville, which beat Detroit in a shootout. There's no time to rest, though, especially with a desperate Dallas squad back at the UC on Thursday.
"It's so tight in our division here," said Hinostroza, who isn't at all upset about going from the first-place Panthers to a bubble team in the Hawks. "I was just working hard every day for an opportunity. Luckily it's here in my hometown with a lot of the guys that I know and want to battle for to get in the playoffs. Us getting in the playoffs would be the most rewarding thing. I think we could do some damage if we get there."