Traverse City, Mich. -- Less than 24 hours after falling just short of a dramatic comeback, the Blackhawks found the right combinations in a 4-3 come-from-behind win over Detroit to close out the first half of their tournament.
The first period was a statement of intent, as Chicago outshot Detroit 15-6 and spent large swathes of each shift in the offensive zone. With an early power play helping secure momentum, Chicago broke through at 10:53 as captain Luke Johnson fed the puck to free-agent invitee Michael Cramarossa, who buried a wrister from the right circle.
Video: Late goal from DeBrincat completes comeback vs. DET
Detroit, playing in front of a robust home crowd, found another gear in the second period, taking the lead on goals by forwards Dylan Sadowy and Lane Zablocki. Although the Blackhawks managed to tie the game on a goal by AHL signing Darren Raddysh, a late power play for Detroit yielded another go-ahead goal as Dennis Chlowski snuck a long-range shot just under the crossbar with less than 2 minutes remaining in the period.
"I thought the first was excellent -- really good pace to our game, a little bit of urgency," Rockford Head Coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We were quicker to support each other, both offensively and defensively. The second was the total opposite. We were late [to plays] and half-speed a lot of the time. It's tough because there are good players on the other side and they're going to make plays."
In the third period the Blackhawks regained their earlier rhythm, despite losing forward Nathan Noel to a lower-body injury just a couple minutes in. But the top line of David Kampf, Alex DeBrincat and Anthony Louis generated shot opportunities seemingly at will, using their speed and creativity to buzz around Detroit's defenders and keep puck possession solidly in the offensive zone.
Chicago broke through at the 9:25 mark as defenseman Carl Dahlstrom scored his second goal in as many games, the puck deflecting off a defender and past goalie Kaden Fulcher. Late in regulation, DeBrincat netted the game-winner after a quick drag move, leaning into a quick wrist shot to claim his second tally of the tournament. Louis, who replaced Alexandre Fortin on the top trio, started the play by hitting DeBrincat with a quick transition pass in the neutral zone.
"We just wanted to see how they do," Colliton said about the successful combination. "We want to win, of course, but we also want to evaluate these guys and see where they're at and what might work."
"We had good chemistry right away, used each other well, talked a lot," Louis added. "We'd never played with each other, so for our first game together I think it went really well."
Although Detroit created some last-minute chances with their goalie pulled, Blackhawks netminder Matt Tomkins held strong in his first start of the weekend, shutting the door with a big save right at the buzzer. Overall, the 2012 seventh-round pick made 23 saves to secure the victory, including all nine he faced in the third period.
"The game got away from us a little bit in the second," Tomkins said. "We got a little sloppy and unfortunately they were able to capitalize. But in the third we were able to get back to our game. They made a push at the end there, trying to tie it up, but we did a good job of preventing it. The team made my job pretty easy tonight, keeping guys outside and minimizing their chances."
The Blackhawks have Sunday off and will return to action on Monday against Carolina, the tournament's defending champion.
"We've got a little bowling tournament, so it's going to be pretty fun," Louis said.