Joakim Nordstrom had the understandable smile on his face when he came back into the Chicago Blackhawks’ locker room. Those first career NHL goals will have that effect on you.
“I kind of exploded inside,” Nordstrom said of how he felt on that goal, which gave the Blackhawks an early lead en route to their 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night. “It’s always nice to get the first goal. It felt good.”
It was a good night for the youngster, who started at his natural center position before moving to the wing but never lost the energy or drive in logging 12 minutes, 39 seconds of ice time. And that goal, which he scored after fellow Swede Niklas Hjalmarsson laced a pass to him, was a nice topper.
“We have the Swedish invasion here, (Nordstrom) set up by another Swede. Swede play. Sweet play, sorry,” Duncan Keith said. “It’s nice to see that. He’s a great player and only 21 years old. He’s only going to get better.”
Nordstrom’s already feeling better in these first few games. After scoring that first goal, he wasn’t shy about going for more shots. He also delivered three hits.
“He had a heck of a game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He had the puck a lot, made a lot of plays defensively that led to some dangerous plays offensively. He did a lot of good things. It’s nice to see him get that confidence, get comfortable with the puck.”
Speaking of pucks, Andrew Shaw made sure Nordstrom got that puck on which he scored his first goal. Nordstrom said he’ll probably send it home.
“I think my parents will be pretty excited about it,” he said.
Quenneville put the Blackhawks’ lines through the mix cycle on Friday night but settled on some combos by the second period. The biggest move was Brandon Saad going back on that top line, where he replaced a struggling Bryan Bickell. The 20-year-old has earned it: He’s been strong from the start of this season, and his play remained that way once the move was made.
“He’s another guy, just 20 years old. I don’t know where they keep getting these guys from; give our draft guys some credit,” Duncan Keith said. “He’s another guy who steps right in and plays like a veteran.”
Duncan Keith’s first assist came in an odd way. His attempted shot on goal instead hit the back boards and then bounced right to Jonathan Toews, who finished for his second goal of the season. Keith said that wayward shot was not intentional.
“The guy was in my lane, so I had to shoot it to the side,” he said. “It nicked the goalie’s pad. I just wanted to get it by the guy in my lane. I’m not that smart.”
Late recall, assignment
The Blackhawks recalled Brandon Pirri from the Rockford IceHogs and assigned forward Jimmy Hayes to their AHL affiliate late Friday night. Pirri has three assists in three games with the IceHogs this season. The center was looking to make the Blackhawks' roster out of training camp. He suffered a lower-body injury that cost him about a week and later went to Rockford.
Hayes has played in two games for the Blackhawks this season.
— Jonathan Toews had a game-high seven shots on goal.
— Johnny Oduya finished with six blocked shots.