Mike Kostka gave a big fist pump and celebrated his goal, the first of his NHL career. Who figured, between he and Dave Bolland, that Kostka would be the first to score on his former team the first time he faced it.
[Highlights: Kostka drops the hammer on Maple Leafs]
Kostka recorded his first NHL goal and Bryan Bickell scored his first of the season as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at the United Center on Saturday night. On the night where Bolland returned to his old stomping grounds to face the team he won two Stanley Cups with, Kostka, who played 35 games with Toronto last season, would be the one celebrating with his new mates.
[RELATED: Bickell relieved to end the waiting game]
“Things have come full circle. It’s a special night to be able to do that, and extra sweet to do it against my old team,” Kostka said. “It was a long time waiting, and I needed to throw (that fist pump) into that because it doesn’t happen too often.”
Brandon Pirri scored his second goal in as many games, this one coming on his newly acquired power-play time. Nick Leddy recorded two assists and Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 20 shots in the victory.
For the Blackhawks as a team, tonight was a welcome sight. After a forgettable performance against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, the Blackhawks came with as complete an outing as they’ve had this season. No, the Blackhawks didn’t score in the third period. But they kept the pressure on and the shots coming and kept the Leafs off the scoreboard during those final 20 minutes.
[WATCH: Crawford, Bickell say Blackhawks played their best game of the season]
“We got what we were looking for as far as chances, zone time, it was consistency across the line,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Even though we didn’t produce in the third period – we did score once (a Joakim Nordstrom goal nullified by a Bickell goaltending interference) – we did what we wanted to do tonight. We were much more effective.”
Indeed, the Blackhawks didn’t take their foot off the gas much on Saturday night. Only a Nazem Kadri power-play shot bested the Blackhawks, who outshot the Leafs 40-20. The Blackhawks penalty kill recovered after that Kadri goal, killing off their final three penalties including two in the third period.
“That was a better 60 minutes,” Bickell said. “We outshot them by quite a bit. Going into the third we were only up by two, but give (credit) to our penalty kill. They blocked shots, did what it took to get the win.”
Quenneville said he’s fine with not scoring in the third as long as they don’t give anything up in return.
[WATCH -- Quenneville: We got what we were looking for tonight]
“We still had some good chances to score. It’s not like we just sat back and waited for them to come,” he said. “We played the way we did the first two periods, kept the heat on relatively well. We had a couple penalties to get through that gave them some momentum, but I thought we settled down in 5 on 5.”
Kostka went that full circle with his first career goal at the most opportune time. The Blackhawks put in a full 60 minutes. Not a bad Saturday night for anyone in a red jersey, really.
“We’ve had some good periods. The first (period) against Carolina was as good as we’ve played,” Quenneville said. “But start to finish, that’s what we were looking for.”