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THREE THINGS: Playoff Mentality, Kirby on Cue and Three Years Later

Three takeaways from Chicago's 4-2 win over Dallas on Tuesday night

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

The Blackhawks returned home on Tuesday night and took a big win over the Dallas Stars, 4-2, to get back on the right foot following a disappointing result on Saturday in Nashville. 

"I was really happy with our approach tonight," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I thought we responded in a lot of different ways to the challenge. Nice that we were rewarded for the work that we put in and I thought we were pretty sharp with a lot of details, which helps... That's a big step for our group in a big game."

Kirby Dach, Dominik Kubalik, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane all scored on the night and Kevin Lankinen once again stood tall in goal, stopping 25 shots for his 14th win. 

Video: DeBrincat, Kane propel Blackhawks past Stars

Here are three takeaways from the win: 


PLAYOFF MENTALITY

In a normal year, early April would bring the do-or-die ups and downs of playoff hockey. And as it turns out, the case is much the same in the shortened campaign despite the calendar running through May. 

"'Kaner' said before the game, 'Every game from here on out is a playoff game,'" new re-addition Vinnie Hinostroza said after the win. "We have to approach it as such."

"It was the biggest game of the season so far and every game going forward is going to be like a playoff game for us," Lankinen added. "I think we approached with that mentality and that showed tonight. We came in hard and I think we played really well. Definitely deserved the win."

The Blackhawks not only held strong as the Stars attempted yet another late comeback in a game this season -- seeing a 3-0 lead after 40 cut to 3-2 with just over six minutes to play -- but they did so against a crucial team that is neck-and-neck with them in the standings. Coming into the night, both Dallas and Chicago had .500 records, while the Stars trailed by three points with three games in hand to play down the stretch.

"You could tell they were going to push back. They're in a similar situation as we are. They need to win some games and they were three goals behind. We knew they were going to have a push," Lankinen said. "Luckily, we were able to manage it even though we gave up a couple goals. We grinded and stuck with it and deserved the win at the end. It showed a lot of character that we did what it took to get two points tonight."

The ever-tightening Central Division race continued that trend on Tuesday as well. Nashville tied Detroit late and took the second point in a shootout to maintain a three-point lead on Chicago for the fourth place and a playoff spot, while Columbus blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning to pull three points back of the Blackhawks. 

"Important obviously for the standings," Colliton said of taking the win in regulation, not allowing a point to the visitors, "but important for our group and our confidence that we were able to lock it down."

Video: Lankinen on win over DAL, Dach's performance


KIRBY ON CUE

Just a day after speaking to reporters about his still-growing confidence in the offensive zone just five games into his return, Dach brimmed with it in the opening minutes on Tuesday. 

"It's just confidence things like, in the offensive zone, hanging on to the puck and making plays and trusting my shot more," he said after practice Monday. 

Dach and Patrick Kane wasted no time on their opening shift of the night connecting to find twine as the former patiently found the latter on a rush. But following a lengthy review, Dach was ruled offside and the tally reversed. 

Ten minutes later, roles were reversed as the veteran set up the second-year center for a slick score -- his first of the season -- and a 1-0 lead.

Video: DAL@CHI: Kane sets up Dach's opening goal

"Yeah, that was his best game," Colliton said of Dach overall. "I think he was excellent and it makes a big difference for our team when he plays like that."

The top line as a whole stood out on the night as all three -- Dach, DeBrincat and Kane -- scored goals in the win. 

"It's huge for us," Lankinen said of the trio clicking. "They are the biggest names on our team and you can count on them every single night. That's what makes them so great."

Video: Hinostroza on returning to the United Center


THREE YEARS LATER

A day shy of exactly three years since he last put on a Blackhawks sweater, Vinnie Hinostroza returned to the Chicago lineup on Tuesday night following his re-acquisition last Friday. 

He made an immediate impact, setting up Dominik Kubalik on the game's second goal with a 2-on-1 dish and would've likely had a second assist had Philipp Kurashev's stick not failed him on a third-period 3-on-1. 

"It felt great to be back here wearing this jersey and felt great to be playing again," he said after. 

"I thought he was very good," Colliton said. "He brought what we were hoping he would: skating and pressure and competitiveness and he won a lot of loose pucks, obviously made a great play on the goal, he had some other chances as well and created a couple other chances. I thought his pace and his puck battles helped our group."

Hinostroza spent the last two full campaigns in Arizona -- with a career year in 2018-19 notching 39 points (16G, 23A) in 72 games -- before signing in Florida last October. Things didn't pan out with the Panthers, appearing just nine times before the trade back to his hometown of Chicago. 

"Coming in, I just wanted to be myself, the hard-working guy," he said. "I think my linemates are so skilled, I just wanted to get in on the forecheck, try to get pucks to them and see what happens. Us getting the win tonight and us chipping in on a goal, it felt great. It's been a long few months for me, battling to get in the lineup in Florida, and it felt great to come here and produce."

"Any time I've played against him in the league, he's always competed hard and noticeable with his speed. Even when he played against us with Florida, I thought he was noticeable," veteran Ryan Carpenter said after morning skate. "He's had some good years, number-wise, and he can put pucks in the back of the net, too."

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