With win, Hawks make their points
John Tavares of the Islanders draws a crowd near the Hawks net late in the third period, including goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and defensemen Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson at the United Center on Friday night.
After giving away what they felt were 3 points in the last two games, the Blackhawks came away with what they wanted Friday night against the Islanders.
The Hawks made an early second-period goal by Michal Handzus hold up in a 3-2 win at the United Center.
Blackhawks game day
Blackhawks vs. Buffalo Sabres at the United Center, 7 p.m.
Radio: WGN-AM 720
The skinny: The Sabres still haven't won a game, coming to town 0-4-1 after losing 4-1 to Columbus on Thursday. The Hawks were 10-1-1 on the second night of back-to-back games last season. Corey Crawford is expected to oppose Ryan Miller.
Next: Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena, 6 p.m. Tuesday.
— Tim Sassone
Handzus snapped a 2-2 tie with his first goal of the season at 6:45 on a Duncan Keith rebound, beating Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin, who was making his first start of the season.
"I thought we played well the last two games but didn't get the points, and it's all about results in this league," Handzus said.
"The last couple game we weren't happy with some plays that kind of cost us some points," Keith said. "We feel we played pretty good hockey, but you want to get those points at the end of the day. We had 6 possible points and ended up with 3 so we kind of left some on the table. It was nice tonight to play some good defense and finish it off."
Keith also assisted on Jonathan Toews' goal in the first period on a play where he said his shot clipped the pad of Poulin and rebounded off the end boards to Toews.
Joakim Nordstrom scored his first NHL goal to open the scoring at 9:32 of the first period on a pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson from behind the net.
"It felt really good," said Nordstrom, who plans to send the puck home to his parents in Sweden. "I kind of exploded inside. It's always nice to get the first goal."
Nordstrom started the game at center on the fourth line but wound up playing wing on the third line after coach Joel Quenneville shook things up starting in the second period.
"I thought he had a heck of a game," Quenneville said of Nordstrom. "He had the puck a lot and made a lot of plays defensively that led to some dangerous plays offensively. It's nice to see him get that confidence or get comfortable with the puck."
Quenneville put Brandon Saad back with Toews and Patrick Kane on the top line, replacing Bryan Bickell.
"I like how he responded playing against the other team's top guys," Quenneville said about Saad. "He did a nice job. You give up 2 goals in the last minute of a period and you're not happy. He played with Jonny all last year so it looks like he's comfortable there."
Quenneville shook up his lines after the Islanders got 2 goals 56 seconds apart from Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo in the final minute of the first period to make it 2-2.
Okposo's goal came with 4.8 seconds left in the period.
Until then it had been all Hawks, who took a 2-0 lead on goals from Nordstrom and Toews.
"You don't want to get scored on at the end of a period like that, but we tightened it up the rest of the way," Keith said.
Nikolai Khabibulin faced 19 shots to record his first win with the Hawks since 2009.
"I thought he was fine," Quenneville said. "I thought he got better as the game went on. It was nice to see him get a win right off the bat."
Nordstrom played almost 13 minutes and has 3 hits in addition to his goal.
"It was nice to see him with a big smile on his face scoring his first goal," Keith said. "He's a guy who's only 21 who is going to get better and better."
•The Hawks recalled Brandon Pirri from Rockford and assigned Jimmy Hayes to the IceHogs.
•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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