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Saad’s OT goal helps Blackhawks complete comeback vs. Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. — Brandon Saad’s return to Chicago couldn’t have gone smoother with four game-winning goals in his first six games after a trade with Columbus. The left wing then went cold with no goals in 10 games, and so did the Blackhawks, falling in the Central Division standings.
But Saad found his touch again Saturday night, scoring with 3:16 left in overtime as Chicago rallied twice from two-goal deficits to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3.
“To see our group battle back like this shows a lot of character,” said Saad, who now leads the NHL with five game-winning goals. “I hope this helps us head in the right direction.”
“Not very often we’ve been in this spot,” added coach Joel Quenneville said of his team’s average start to the season. “We try to be positive when it’s time, but at the same time we have to know the areas we have to be better and it is not flattering. Let’s improve, absorb it and find ways to correct it, and get comfortable, confident and poised.”
Chicago backup goalie Anton Forsberg won his first career game as a starter. He previously won a game in January 2016, but it was when he came in to an overtime situation. Forsberg made 35 stops to improve to 2-9-2 in his career.
“I thought he responded really well to the way the game was going,” Quenneville said. “He made some key saves in the third period — I like the response to that.”
Brock McGinn and Jeff Skinner scored 2:08 apart in the first period to put the Hurricanes up 2-0 early, but Carolina (6-5-4) and goaltender Scott Darling, making his first appearance against his former team couldn’t hold the lead late.
Chicago (8-7-2) trailed 3-1 heading into the third before Alex DeBrincat scored his second of the game early in the period and defenseman Gustav Forsling notched his first of the season with 8:31 left to tie the score.
Darling, Chicago’s backup goalie for three years prior to being acquired in April by Carolina, stopped Saad on a penalty shot less than two minutes into the game to give his club some early momentum.
McGinn’s backhander five minutes after Saad’s attempt gave Carolina a 1-0 lead and extended his goal scoring streak to three straight games. He then scored midway through the second on a partial breakaway for his first career multi-goal game after Chicago had cut the score to 2-1.
McGinn’s fifth of the season came on his first shift after being stung on a blocked shot while short-handed.
Skinner almost snuck the puck under Chicago backup goalie Anton Forsberg with 11 minutes left in the first, but scored seconds later. The puck was cleared from the crease to the far boards, where Skinner gathered it in and wheeled around, firing his team-leading eighth of the season over Forsberg’s shoulder.
DeBrincat’s fourth of the season midway through the second and as time expired on the Blackhawks’ third power play of the game cut into Carolina’s two-goal lead before McGinn gave his club a two-goal cushion again less than two minutes later.
“He has some good patience and play recognition and it’s nice to see him finish,” Quenneville said of his rookie forward. “We have been snake-bite across the board and it seemed to be contagious there for a number of games now. Hopefully he was a spark for us and we all should feel a little more comfortable with the puck.”
“Things couldn’t have gotten any worse, so for us the key was to stay loose,” added Saad said of the mood in the locker room after the second period. “We have a lot of guys who can get the job done so when we play the right way you see how things happen for us.”
For the sixth straight game, Carolina has outshot its opponent, but is only 2-1-3 in that span.
“You’ve got bear down, especially late in the game,” Skinner said.
NOTES: Carolina G Scott Darling is one of six former Blackhawks on the Hurricanes’ roster. ... Chicago RW John Hayden was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. ... Injured Carolina RW Lee Stempniak, playing his first game of the season on a conditioning stint with AHL Charlotte on Friday night, left the game after one shift with an injury and did not return. ... Chicago G Anton Forsberg has played three of his 14 career games against the Hurricanes. ... The first period featured a combined 31 shots on goal. ... Chicago RW Richard Panik’s assist on Chicago’s second-period goal was his 100th career point.