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PREVIEW: Alex DeBrincat’s return has Chicago Blackhawks rising in Dallas

Feb 7, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Stars right wing Denis Gurianov (34) and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (2) defend against Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan (44) during the third period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Refreshed and refocused after returning from the COVID-19 list, Chicago Blackhawks’ left wing Alex DeBrincat hardly has missed a beat in the past week.

DeBrincat has tallied two points in each of the three games since his return from an eight-day hiatus, including a pair of goals in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime victory at Dallas.

Fresh off its first road victory of 2021, Chicago will seek a sweep of the back-to-back as the Stars aim to avenge their lone home loss of the season.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Blackhawks, check out #NHLBlackhawks rumors, rankings, and news here.

“We left a point on the board today, in my opinion,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said Sunday, “and we’ve got to get it back on Tuesday night.”

The surging DeBrincat figures to make that no easy task. Overall, he enters Tuesday on a five-game point streak, and for the season is tied with Patrick Kane for the team lead with six.

DeBrincat opened the scoring Sunday with a second-period power-play goal — Chicago’s 15th goal on the man advantage in 13 games — before netting the game-winner on a slick pass from Kane midway through OT.

“It’s different watching the team on the TV,” DeBrincat said. “You see some things, but I think for the most part I was just super excited to come back. It sucks sitting out, and I was just ready to go from the start and super excited to be back with the guys.”

Stars rookie goaltender John Oettinger, starting in place of Anton Khudobin (team disciplinary reasons), kept the team afloat with 33 saves.

“Jake was very, very good,” Bowness said. “He made a lot of big saves and was very composed back in the net. He was aggressive when he had to be, and his reads of the play were really good. So I thought that was Jake’s best game and it was unfortunate we didn’t get one more goal for him. He did a great job for us.”

Monday, Khudobin apologized to the team for being late to Saturday’s practice, which resulted in his benching for Sunday’s game. Although Bowness said, “It’s over, we’ve dealt with it, we move on,” it remained unclear whether Khudobin would start in goal Tuesday.

For Chicago, Malcom Subban stopped 30 of 31 shots while spelling starter Kevin Lankinen.

“We’re out here trying to prove people wrong,” Subban said. “The culture of our team and the work ethic that we put in, we want to try and outwork teams, and that goes a long way in this league. It’s hard to have a lot of success without hard work. I think it starts from there with our team every day in practice and leading up to the season and now it’s paying off. It’s a great confidence builder for us.”

Dallas will aim to regroup offensively. Jason Robertson provided the team’s only goal Sunday, as the Stars were without second-leading scorer Alexander Radulov (lower-body injury). The Stars had scored 12 goals in their three games before Sunday.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Stars, check out #GoStars rumors, rankings, and news here.

“I just love how we competed right to the end,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We gave ourselves a chance for someone to make a play and a big two points for us against a real difficult opponent.”

–Field Level Media