Oct. 20-- CHICAGO-Blackhawks first-round pick Kirby Dach made his NHL debut in front of a home crowd Sunday night against the Capitals, starting at center on the first line with Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome at the United Center.
Dach received a loud ovation during pregame introductions when his image was displayed on the giant video board. Dach won the opening faceoff against Nicklas Backstrom.
Dach took his first NHL hit right after the faceoff, courtesy of Jonas Siegenthaler, and in the second period he took a high stick to the face from Chandler Stephenson, who was slapped with a 4-minute double minor.
The Blackhawks failed to convert any of their three power-play chances in a 5-3 loss.
The Capitals got on the board first, taking advantage an Andrew Shaw holding penalty. Evgeny Kuznetsov and found a wide-open T.J. Oshie 13 feet in front of Corey Crawford for the power-play goal.
The Hawks answered in the second when Alex Nylander fed Ryan Carpenter as he crossed in front of Braden Holtby and Carpenter backhanded it to Drake Caggiula, who wristed the puck into the net at the 8:25 mark.
But the Hawks wasted a prime opportunity after Stephenson's penalty on the ensuing power play. Kane let the puck get away from him in the offensive zone and Nic Dowd turned the giveaway into a short-handed goal on Carl Hagelin's assist.
The energy kicked up a notch in the third, a period marked by two goals on both sides and a couple of skirmishes.
Kane took a feed from Nylander and fired it past Holtby to tie the game at 3, then punched the glass in celebration.
Less than two minutes later Tom Wilson slipped a shot pass Corey Crawford's left skate with 8:13 left for the go-ahead goal. Lars Eller added an empy-netter.
Earlier in the day, Dach summed up his journey from being drafted No. 3 overall in June to playing a short stint with the Rockford IceHogs earlier this month to making his NHL debut Sunday night against the Capitals in front of a home crowd.
"It's kind of a whirlwind," Dach said after morning practice at the United Center. "You're just kind of getting thrown in right away and you don't really have time to react. You just kind of got to focus on the game and not really sit back and realize what's going on."
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton had been tight-lipped about which line will feature Dach, saying "We'll firm the lineup up tonight."
Alex DeBrincat had dropped a clue, however: "I think that line should be pretty good. I think he'll generate a lot of chances."
Dach made his debut as a center, but he'll likely see time as a wing. Colliton said, "I think he can play either one, which is a big benefit for us. Probably long term he's a center, but it's only a benefit to be versatile."
"I see myself as a centerman," Dach said. "But at the same time I'm happy to play any position the coaching staff puts me in."
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