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(Friday, October 11th)
Final Score: Chicago 3, NY Islanders 2
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Duncan Keith notched a pair of assists and Nikolai Khabibulin made a triumphant return to Chicago in the Blackhawks' 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders at the United Center.
Michal Handzus netted the game-winning goal in the second period, while Khabibulin stopped all 12 shots he faced over the final two frames in his first start as a Blackhawk since the 2009 Western Conference finals. The veteran netminder, who previously spent four seasons with Chicago from 2005-09, re-signed with the team during the offseason.
Khabibulin finished with 17 saves overall for the Blackhawks, who also received goals from Jonathan Toews and rookie Joakim Nordstrom.
"He had a heck of a game," Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said of Nordstrom. "Did a lot of good things."
The Islanders failed to register a point for the first time in four outings this season after managing just a goal each from Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo, which came within a 49-second span late in the opening period. Kevin Poulin turned back 25-of-28 chances in his first action of the season.
"We talked about how we needed to close quicker and take away their time and space," Isles head coach Jack Capuano said. "I thought it was a function of us not moving our feet."
Handzus' goal with 6:45 elapsed in the second period snapped a 2-2 deadlock. Left alone in front of the net, the veteran center hammered in a rebound of Keith's blast from the left point for his first tally of the season.
The Blackhawks made the lead stand up over the duration, with the Islanders mustering few scoring opportunities over the final 30 minutes and failing to capitalize on an interference penalty to Andrew Shaw with 8:50 left to play.
A hooking call on Peter Regin with 3:03 to go ultimately sealed New York's fate.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks dominated the game's early stages, outshooting New York by a 7-1 margin over the first 10 minutes and gaining the upper hand when Nordstrom put home a pinpoint behind-the-net feed from Niklas Hjalmarsson near the midway mark of the opening period for his first career NHL marker.
Toews made it a 2-0 lead for Chicago later in frame, with the Blackhawks captain collecting the carom of Keith's off-target drive and rifling it into an open left side.
The Islanders turned it on near the end of the period, however, scoring twice in the final minute to draw even.
Michael Grabner led a counterattack before dropping in a centering pass to Bailey, who beat Khabibulin to the stick side to bring New York within 2-1.
The Islanders kept up the pressure, with John Tavares forcing a turnover from Hjalmarsson deep in the Blackhawks' end and finding Okposo for a backhander in close with only 4.8 seconds on the first-period clock.
Forward Cal Clutterbuck, acquired by the Islanders from Minnesota in June, made his debut with his new team. He missed New York's first three games after suffering a cut on his leg during the preseason ... The Islanders had outscored the opposition by a 6-2 margin in the second period entering the contest ... The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on the power play, while New York finished 0-for-2 in such situations ... Chicago's Patrick Kane had a three- game goal-scoring streak halted ... The Blackhawks have now prevailed in four straight meetings with the Isles.
10/12 02:29:11 ET
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