GLENDALE, AZ. – There were two main positives for the Blackhawks during their final contest at Gila River Arena before the team moves to Arizona State University.
The first is one is something that fans of the team have gotten used to even in a rough season for the franchise: Big goals from Alex DeBrincat. That came in overtime when the forward notched his 40th goal of the season to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory.
That winner in the extra session with just 37 seconds left is DeBrincat’s fourth of the season, tying him with Conor McDavid for the NHL lead in the 2021-2022 season.
While fans have seen that a bit, they saw something quite unique in the second period when a Chicago native notched his first goal in the NHL.
Wilmette’s Alex Vlasic did so late in the second period to put the Blackhawks up 3-1 as he also got his first NHL point after playing in ten games. The defenseman got the puck on the outside and fired a wrist shot past Karel Vejmelka for the goal, with teammate Patrick Kane picking up the puck for Vlasic to keep.
“It’s good to get it out of the way,” said Vlasic of his first goal after the game. “I really don’t know how that one snuck in there. I’m just glad it went in, I guess.”
It was a night of highs and lows for Vlasic, as late in the third period he had a turnover that led to the tying goal by Anton Stralman. Yet interim head coach Derek King praised the rookie defenseman’s overall play and how the effort as a whole can contribute to his growth at the NHL level.
“This is the stuff he’ll learn as he gets more mature and becomes better and better with more games under his belt,” said King of Vlasic. “He’s was probably, if not, our best defenseman on the ice tonight.”
The compliment meant a lot to Vlasic, who was a 2019 second round draft pick of the Blackhawks and signed his three-year entry-level contract on March 15th. He had just completed his junior year at Boston University when he made his Blackhawks’ on March 19th and has been in and out of the lineup over the last month.
“Means a lot for sure,” said Vlasic of King saying he was the best defenseman for the team on Wednesday. “Like I said, obviously, making mistakes is part of it, so try not to let that affect me, just learn from things, what I’m doing wrong, and hopefully continue the things I’m doing right.”