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Blackhawks regain form, beat Islanders 5-2

Robin Lehner performed admirably with 38 saves in a revenge game and the Blackhawks offense got going.

NHL: New York Islanders at Chicago Blackhawks Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Robin Lehner made 38 saves to win his first game against his former team, and the Blackhawks dominated the Islanders 5-2 on Friday at United Center in front of the second-largest crowd of the season.

Dennis Gilbert scored his first career NHL goal, and Matthew Highmore scored his first of the season for Chicago, which has won four of six.

There was also nice performances from important leaders like Duncan Keith and Dylan Strome — two assists each — as well as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kubalik, each of whom got one point.

How it Happened

Despite allowing the first goal of the game, the Blackhawks opened the game well. Ross Johnston scored first for the Islanders, nearly six minutes into the game. Erik Gustafsson and Dominik Kubalik covered the same guy (Nick Leddy) which led to Johnston being alone on the doorstep.

A little less than two minutes later, however, Dennis Gilbert scored his first NHL goal to even the game:

Strome added a beautiful up-ice pass, his first of two primary assists in the period, to make that goal possible.

After a good bit of forechecking from the Toews and John Quenneville line, Kubalik redeemed himself, scoring the go-ahead goal about halfway through the period:

Kane and Kubalik combine to force the turnover, Kubalik gets it to the open Kane, who adds the setup. A great shift from all four forwards involved, and it helps the Blackhawks get a lead early.

DeBrincat would add to that lead with a snipe two minutes later, breaking his eight-game goalless streak and putting the Blackhawks up 3-1. DeBrincat’s tally would stand as the game winner.

That goal would lead to Thomas Greiss getting pulled 12 minutes into the game, as Semyon Varlamov, a familiar foe to the Blackhawks, would replace him. The Blackhawks scored three goals in their first 11 shots, so Greiss getting pulled was likely a wise decision.

The Islanders dominated the middle frame as both sides’ special teams got a look. The Blackhawks took the game’s first penalty as Highmore went to the box, and New York got six shots and three high-danger chances in four minutes of power-play time in the second period. The Blackhawks got one shot in two minutes.

The Islanders had a 25-16 Corsi lead in the second period and had 16 shots to the Blackhawks’ eight.

The Blackhawks got a goal within the first minute of the third period, however, as Toews hustled to force a takeaway at center ice and then sniped it past Varlamov for the tally:

Toews has hit a hot streak of late, with 16 points in his last 15 games.

Chicago also got a goal from the fourth line as a shot from a bad angle from Highmore went in off Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock, making it 5-1. Unfortunately, Casey Cizikas added a shorthanded goal for the Islanders late in the period for the 5-2 final.

Game Charts

Puck possession flow chart (5-on-5)
Natural Stat Trick
Shot heat map (All situations)
Natural Stat Trick

Three Starz

Robin Lehner (CHI) — 38 saves, nine high-danger, 3.11 expected goals against

Dylan Strome (CHI) — 2 assists, 4 shots, 50 FO%

Dennis Gilbert (CHI) — 1 goal, 3 shots blocked, 17:55 TOI

What’s next?

The Blackhawks will pay a visit to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets at 4 p.m. Sunday.