CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks wanted to give their fans something to cheer about at the end of a long season.
Alex DeBrincat delivered.
DeBrincat scored his 41st goal in the third period and Kevin Lankinen made 33 saves, helping the Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 on Monday night in a matchup of disappointing teams.
“The guys, they battled, they worked,” interim coach Derek King said. “Lanks played well. We did some good things.”
Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist as Chicago (27-42-11) won for just the fifth time in its last 20 games. Erik Gustafsson also scored against one of his former teams, and Dominik Kubalik picked up an assist in his 200th NHL game.
King talked to his team at the morning skate about making the most of its last three games, including two at home. The Blackhawks improved to 13-21-6 at the United Center this season.
“Finish right at home. Get the fans out of their seats,” King said.
Philadelphia lost for the 12th time in its last 16 games. Kevin Hayes scored for the Flyers (25-44-11), and Felix Sandstrom made 30 stops in his fourth NHL start.
“We weren’t good enough with the puck tonight versus a team that transitions really well,” interim Flyers coach Mike Yeo said. “They came in off the rush and it gave them a lot of opportunities.”
Chicago was clinging to a 2-1 lead when DeBrincat converted a one-timer off a cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane at 7:45.
DeBrincat matched his career high for goals, set during the 2018-19 season. It was Kane’s 66th assist, equaling his career best from 2018-19.
Blackhawks defenseman Jake McCabe was sent off for tripping with 1:23 left, and Philadelphia’s Bobby Brink shot the puck off the inside of the right post. It nearly went off Lankinen and in, but defenseman Riley Stillman swept it off the line.
The Flyers went 0 for 4 on the power play, continuing their season-long special teams issues, and the Blackhawks went 0 for 5 with the man advantage.
“We want to end the season strong here, end on a good note, and I think we played a really solid game tonight,” Lankinen said. “So that was fun.”
Back at home after a sluggish three-game trip, Chicago put together a fast start behind Toews.
The veteran center set up a trailing Gustafsson for a wrist shot from the high slot that made it 1-0 at 1:44. It was Gustafsson’s first goal since Jan. 28 and his third of the season.
Toews was sent off for slashing at 4:08, but he got out of the box, got a nice stretch pass from Sam Lafferty and beat Sandstrom for his 12th goal in 69 games this season. The captain missed all of last year with what he described as chronic immune response syndrome.
The Flyers then got one back when Hayes finished a 2-on-1 with Scott Laughton for his 10th goal at 8:03. Laughton got loose for a breakaway with about two minutes left in the first, but he was denied by Lankinen.
“I thought we had a lot of looks,” Hayes said. “Shows we need to respond better. At any moment we could have tied it up.”
The Flyers had won six in a row against the Blackhawks. It was their first loss to Chicago since Nov. 1, 2017.
Hayes was nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy by the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome was nominated by the Chicago chapter. The Masterton award is presented to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
THAT’S A WRAP
Blackhawks coach Derek King said defenseman Connor Murphy (concussion protocol) and forwards Kirby Dach (right shoulder sprain) and MacKenzie Entwistle (right shoulder) aren’t expected to play in the team’s final two games of the season. Murphy and Dach skated with the team on Monday morning.
Flyers: At Winnipeg on Wednesday night, and then home for their season finale Friday night against Ottawa.
Blackhawks: Host Vegas on Wednesday night, and then visit Buffalo on Friday night.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Jay Cohen, The Associated Press