CHICAGO -- The questions about Alex DeBrincat entering the season seem antiquated less than two months into the season.
At 5-foot-7, would he be big enough to play in the NHL or would he get squashed like a bug when he played physical teams? At 19, would he need some seasoning in the AHL before getting a call up at some point?
DeBrincat gave his biggest figurative laugh at those notions on Monday night, his breakout game, when he earned his first career hat trick as the Hawks beat the Ducks 7-3 at the United Center.
DeBrincat scored three times before the second period had ended on a breeze of a night for the Hawks against the short-staffed Ducks, who were missing four key contributors to injury or illness. The Ducks were without captain Ryan Getzlaf (facial surgery), center Ryan Kesler (hip surgery), winger Patrick Eaves (illness) and center Rickard Rakell (upper body).
It was a good time to be facing the Ducks and DeBrincat and the Hawks showed no mercy. DeBrincat got on the board 16 minutes, 22 seconds into the first period thanks in part to a smooth pass from Nick Schmaltz. Schmaltz shuffled the puck from behind the net and through the slot to DeBrincat at the right circle and DeBrincat one-timed the shot past Ducks goaltender John Gibson.
In the second period, DeBrincat was in perfect position to take advantage of a Ryan Hartman rebound. DeBrincat just touched the puck and the puck glided across the goal line for goal No. 2.
Before goal No. 3, the crowd could sense the hat trick coming. The Hawks were on a 4-on-3 power play and DeBrincat had a 2-on-1 with Patrick Kane. The United Center held its breath as Kane held onto the puck and DeBrincat raced to the corner of the net. Kane sent a perfect pass to DeBrincat's tape and DeBrincat lifted the puck into the net at 14:14. The hats came flying as DeBrincat stood with his arms out soaking in the adoration.
Continuing a positive trend of late, the Hawks raced out to a strong start against the Ducks. After Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews recently snapped out of goal droughts, Patrick Sharp decided it was time to end his. After Gibson stoned him on a prime chance early in the period, Sharp scored from the lower left circle off a feed from Hartman 8:57 seconds into the game. It was his first goal since Oct. 14.
The Hawks kept the pressure on the Ducks throughout the period and pinned them in their own zone for a good portion of the 20 minutes. That resulted in DeBrincat's first goal while Brandon Saad got in on the fun at 18:11 when he rifled in a shot from the slot for his second goal in as many games.
The challenge for the Hawks has been carrying their strong starts over into other period. They did that in a 4-1 victory over the Panthers on Saturday and they were able to do it again Monday. Artem Anismiov scored his 11th goal of the season when he followed his own blocked shot toward the end of a power play at 4:15. Then DeBrincat scored his second of the night when he followed Hartman rebound a 7:49 to make the score 5-1.
After Chris Wagner made it 5-2 for the Ducks, DeBrincat got his chance for the hat trick -- and he wasn't about to miss.
Wagner added a second goal in the third period.
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