Bryan Bickell grabbed the loose puck, waited, slid to a more open spot, waited, then slid the puck past Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier for the 1-0 lead.
The Chicago Blackhawks forward said he probably drove coach Joel Quenneville crazy with his tape-delayed goal. But Bickell was even more relieved to end his own personal waiting game.
Bickell scored his first goal of the season, giving the Blackhawks an early lead and ridding himself of about 500 pounds that were sitting on his shoulders. The big left wing probably exhaled as hard as he yelled after that goal, which helped the Blackhawks en route to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. And he was one relieved-looking player in the locker room.
“That one’s a nice one,” Bickell said. “I gave you that comment about the ketchup bottle a few days ago, but it’s nice to get that first one. I didn’t know I had that (dangle move) in me. I think Q was losing it.”
Quenneville didn’t deny that.
“I was wondering why he didn’t put it in,” he said. “But in the end it was a nice finish.”
Bickell was back on the third line on Saturday, the position he played most of the 2012-13 regular season before his playoff performances vaulted him to the top line. Quenneville figures that could spark Bickell.
“He’s probably more comfortable playing in the position where he was accustomed to last few years, but he had good patience,” he said. “It’s nice to see him get that off his back and I’m sure he’ll be more comfortable in the scoring areas going forward.”
Tribute to Bolland
Dave Bolland was much loved when he played for the Blackhawks. And the Blackhawks gave him a chance to feel the love in the first period when they played a tribute to him on the video board. Bolland took it all in and raised a hand to the crowd, which gave him a hearty reception.
“It was great,” said Bolland, who was part of the Hockey Fights Cancer ceremonial puck drop with Patrick Kane. “It was always a great organization with great fans who were always great to me.”
[WATCH -- Bolland: It was crazy to come back]
Bickell expected nothing less than that reaction to Bolland’s return.
“It was really nice to see him come out for the puck drop with Kaner and get the recognition in the first,” he said. “I know this was a special game. It was definitely a special night for him and his family.”
Nick Leddy’s two-assist game was his ninth career multi-point contest.
Brent Seabrook had a team-high four hits against the Maple Leafs.
Marian Hossa had a game-high seven shots on goal on Saturday night. Patrick Sharp was next with six.