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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Ben Pope

Goalie Alex Stalock, Blackhawks shut out Coyotes even without Patrick Kane

Alex Stalock stopped all 22 shots he faced in the Blackhawks’ 2-0 win over the Coyotes on Friday. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

It was like ‘‘trying to pull nails out of an old log,’’ Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said, but wing Patrick Kane finally admitted he needed to sit out Friday.

Still hobbled by a lower-body injury suffered when he was hit by the Sharks’ Evgeny Svechnikov last weekend, Kane’s absence was his first because of injury since 2015.

But even without the services of their leading scorer, the Hawks put together one of their best efforts of the season in a 2-0 victory against the Coyotes.

‘‘It was a complete game,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘Right from start to finish, I was pretty happy with the performance.’’

Defenseman Jake McCabe scored the only non-empty-net goal of the game, the Hawks generated a season-best plus-10 scoring-chance differential and goalie Alex Stalock — who started for the fourth time in the last five games and has leaped past Petr Mrazek for the No. 1 role — stopped all 22 shots he faced.

It was the Hawks’ first shutout in almost a full calendar year. The defensive corps cleanly executed a new tweak Richardson added to the system, but Stalock was — as often has been the case — the Hawks’ best player.

‘‘We boxed out, I got to see the first shot — which is always a bonus — and [we] cleared out any rebounds that were there the rest of the way,’’ Stalock said. ‘‘It’s the team, man. You can’t do that stuff on your own. [If] you ask any goalie, it’s impossible to do on your own. The group was really good tonight.’’

The Hawks deployed top prospect Lukas Reichel alongside Max Domi and Philipp Kurashev on their first line, and Reichel looked noticeably more confident and assertive than in his previous 12 NHL appearances.

But fortunately for Kane — as well as the Hawks’ interests in potentially trading him at some point — his injury doesn’t sound major. He participated in the morning skate Friday.

‘‘I don’t think it’s anything extremely long-term or anything like that,’’ Kane said. ‘‘So [I’ll] just take it day by day here.

‘‘To be honest with you, I probably could play. But it’s just [in] certain situations, it’s kind of lingering pain. It is what it is right now. But I think I should be through it here quick enough.’’

The Hawks’ next game is at home Sunday against the Flames; Kane’s status for that game is iffy. If he sits it out, he’ll have a three-day break to rest and heal before the Avalanche come to town.

World juniors recap

Four Hawks prospects — forward Colton Dach and defensemen Kevin Korchinski, Nolan Allan and Ethan Del Mastro — got gold medals after Canada defeated Czechia to conclude the 2023 world junior championships Thursday.

Dach suffered a scary-looking shoulder injury earlier in the tournament but was on the ice in high spirits for the postgame celebration. He finished with two points in four games. Korchinski had four points, Del Mastro three and Allan two in seven games each, although Korchinski wasn’t as dominant as hoped.

The Hawks’ other tournament participant was Swedish forward Victor Stjernborg, a fourth-round pick in 2021, who recorded two points in seven games, including a massive late goal to lift Sweden past Finland in the quarterfinals.

Among the three top 2023 draft-eligible prospects — Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Leo Carlsson — whom the Hawks surely were watching closely, Bedard cemented his status as the slam-dunk No. 1 overall pick. He tore up the tournament and stuffed highlight reels worldwide with a historic 23 points in seven games for Canada. 

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