Chicago Blackhawks capture hard fought 3-2 win over Islanders - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Blackhawks capture hard fought 3-2 win over Islanders

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Blackhawks shook off the effects of a tough loss in St. Louis and defeated a gritty bunch of New York Islanders 3-2 Friday night at the United Center. Nikolai Khabibulin got the start in net and played well, as did the back-up goaltender for the Islanders Kevin Poulin.

As was the case in the first three games this season the Hawks had the better of the play but still haven't hit their best stride. In the first period the Blackhawks looked like they should have had a few more goals but they couldn't capitalize on some very good scoring opportunities. Controlling the play and dominating scoring chances is fine, but in the NHL it doesn't take long for things to change.

The Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Joakim Nordstrom and Jonathan Toews. Unfortunately they lost their focus in the waning moments of the first frame and the Islanders capitalized. During a 49-second span, goals by Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey came about and the Islanders were right back in the match. That's the NHL these days and the Blackhawks will face the best game from opponents as everyone wants to beat the champs.

In the second period the Blackhawks regained their focus and at the 6:45 mark, Michal Handzus buried a Duncan Keith rebound. That goal closed out the scoring as the home team stayed on task to grind out a hard fought victory.

Joel Quenneville is no stranger to switching line combinations and he was at it early and often versus the Islanders. Although the Hawks had a two goal lead maybe Quenneville didn't like what he was watching as he began to shuffle lines. There were many changes but the most significant was Andrew Shaw moving up to center the second line and Handzus dropping down to pivot the fourth line. When Handzus connected for the game winner he was doing fourth line duty with Ben Smith and Brandon Bollig.

Niklas Hjalmarsson was credited with a nice assist on the first goal and his partner Johnny Oduya had another solid effort. Oduya was credited with six blocked shots and was strong defensively. The Oduya-Hjalmarsson duo have had a very good start to the season.

With the promotion of Shaw to the second line, Quenneville is probably looking to get more offense from Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Goals are not easy to come by and it takes more than one scoring line to consistently win. We will see how long Shaw stays up on the second line but he appears to be up to the task.

The most pleasant surprise of the evening was the play of Nordstrom. Not only did the rookie score his first NHL goal but he was very noticeable throughout the game. He was credited with two shots and three hits. Nordstrom caught Quenneville's eye in training camp and has looked better every game he has played.

The Hawks will square off with another Eastern Conference invader Saturday night in the Buffalo Sabres. Corey Crawford will be looking to get back on the winning track as his club could use a four point weekend. 

Al's Shots

Late Friday night, the Blackhawks announced they recalled forward Brandon Pirri from the Rockford Ice Hogs of the American Hockey League. Forward Jimmy Hayes was assigned to Rockford.

Hayes getting demoted did not surprise me but my thinking was Jeremy Morin would get a promotion. Maybe now Pirri will get a chance at playing on the second line but there are other possibilities as well.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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