Blackhawks Defeat Islanders on Night of Firsts

It wasn’t easy, but the Chicago Blackhawks skated past the New York Islanders on a night that saw a number of firsts for the organization.

Among the firsts realized for the organization on Friday night:

  • Rookie Joakim Nordstrom scored his first career NHL goal in the first period to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. The score came off a pretty pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson.
  • Netminder Nikolai Khabibulin recorded his first win as a member of the Blackhawks since the 2009 postseason.
  • Netminder Antti Raanta earned his first victory on North American ice, leading the IceHogs to an early season win.
  • And forward Vince Hinostroza scored his first collegiate goal in Notre Dame’s victory over Western Michigan.

The first 18 minutes of play at the United Center were dominated by the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews added his second goal of the young season to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead, but that quickly evaporated in the final minute of the opening frame.

Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo scored 49 seconds apart in the final minute of the first to tie the game, and the Isles had momentum heading into the dressing room.

When the second period started, coach Joel Quenneville had thrown his lineup in a blender. Brandon Saad spent the rest of the night skating with Toews and Patrick Kane, and Andrew Shaw moved up to be between Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Marcus Kruger found himself between Bryan Bickell and Nordstrom, and Michal Handzus dropped to the fourth line with Ben Smith and Brandon Bollig.

Toews had a fantastic night, leading the Blackhawks with seven shots on net and winning 16 of 23 faceoffs in 21:15.¬†Saad’s speed looked more effective on the top line immediately, and that line had a number of quality shifts and scoring chances in the second period.

Quenneville also sent out Toews and Hossa as his first two forwards on the Hawks’ initial penalty kill opportunity of the night. In the game, Toews skated 5:31 with an advantage and another 1:24 short-handed on Friday night.

Nordstrom had his best regular season game in the NHL. Not only did he score the first goal of the night, but he finished tied with Bollig with a team-high three hits and one takeaway on the night.

Kruger skated 2:12 short-handed in the game and was much more effective at the dot, winning seven of 14 faceoffs. After struggling to kill penalties early in the season, the Hawks were perfect in two short-handed situations against a talented Islanders team.

Handzus, who won all five of his faceoffs in the game, was limited to just over nine minutes of total ice time in the game, but scored the game-winning goal at 6:45 in the second period.

Hossa showed a few flashes of the beastmode many fans have been hoping to see, and led the Hawks with five takeaways in the game. Ben Smith was credited with an assist and one hit, and was plus-two in only ten shifts and a team-low 6:17 on the ice.

On the other hand, Bickell continues to be a ghost in the early season. He was credited with only one shot on net and was limited to 18 shifts and 13:32 on the ice.

On the blue line, Johnny Oduya played another strong game. He led the team with six blocked shots and skated a team-high 2:44 short-handed, while Duncan Keith was credited with two assists in over 24 minutes of ice time.

Khabibulin stopped 17 of 19 shots to earn the victory.

The Hawks will come back on Saturday night and host a Buffalo Sabres team that will reportedly be without Patrick Kaleta. Kaleta has an in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety scheduled for Tuesday, and will not play at the United Center this weekend.

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7 Responses to Blackhawks Defeat Islanders on Night of Firsts

  1. vladimir krstic says:

    first 2 goals for leblanc and first goal for svedberg I believe….

  2. EbonyRaptor says:

    Nice to get the 2 points. Hawks dominated at times and had a bunch of goal mouth scrambles they just couldn’t poke it in. I think there was one sequence early where Toews missed two open goal wraparounds when the puck squirted off his stick. But in the end all is well.

    I like the lines Q had going at the end: 20-19-88, 10-65-81, 29-16-42 & 52-26-28. I hope he keeps those lines together for a while … at least a period and a half :)

    Without getting too far ahead of myself, I think Nordstrom might just be a nice surprise. He’s got good instincts / hockey IQ, good speed and plays well defensively. On;y 4 games so far, but I think he’s played better than either Hayes or Smith and if anyone is going to be sent down to Rockford, it ought to be Hayes or Smith before Nordstrom.

  3. wall says:

    Yep- Hayes is going down… and Pirri is up…
    Q must not like what he sees with ALL of the 2nd line centers thus far…

    ER- You know I have been on the Nordstrom bandwagon since day 1… 42 has outplayed/worked half of the Hawks forwards- not just Smith and Hayes!!! He deserves to play on a 3rd line w/ 65/16/29/20 (any combination of including Morin).
    42 plays smart/high IQ/works hard… similar to 16 w/ better finish.

    I thought Smith played well- surprised Q only skated him 6 minutes…

  4. EbonyRaptor says:

    WOW – Pirri called up. That didn’t take long. Considering Q had Handzus start the game at 2C, then Kruger played it for a few shifts, then Shaw played is pretty much the rest of the game … I’m going to take a wild guess and say Pirri will be given a shot at 2C, probably sooner than later, like tomorrow against Buffalo.

    So who sits? It’s gotta be between Handzus and Smith. I’m guessing Zus gets a night off and Q starts the game with:

    20-19-88
    10-37-81
    29-65-42
    52-16-28

  5. Morrison says:

    With 26 & 32 probably not in for backtobacks, Pirri will get some shifts w81&10… If he could stick, then we got 26 w16 on 4th for FO, and 29 has played well w65 since Shawzer has been in league. I like those lines ER right now (go with the flow & get 11 in as well). For playoffs…

    29/20-19-88
    10-37-81
    29/20-65-42
    16-26-11

  6. wall says:

    Most likely what Morrison said…
    but really wouldn’t mind Q sending a message to Bickell-
    29 skating like he needs to go on to Jenny Craig.

  7. DropThePuck says:

    I thought that …
    1) the first Islander goal was due to Jonathan stopping to argue his upcoming (but waived off) Goalie Interference penalty.
    2) the second Islander goal was Tavares being Tavares, with a little help from Bickell’s poor check on his man. Due to last year’s schedule, this was the first time I had seen Tavares… I hope he gets to play a few years before the goons start aiming for his head ala Crosby and Toews…
    3) Nordstrom had a very good game and expect to see him between Hossa and Sharp soon.
    4) Bolig and Smith played well whenever they were on the ice which, surprisingly, was very little.

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