x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Unhappy return for goalie

Nikolai Khabibulin had hoped he would enjoy his return to Chicago. The Blackhawks had other plans for their former goaltender and shelled Khabibulin for four goals on their way to beating the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

The Chicago Blackhawks' Jack Skille celebrates a first-period goal against the Edmonton Oilers.
The Chicago Blackhawks' Jack Skille celebrates a first-period goal against the Edmonton Oilers.

Nikolai Khabibulin had hoped he would enjoy his return to Chicago. The Blackhawks had other plans for their former goaltender and shelled Khabibulin for four goals on their way to beating the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. The Russian, who spent four seasons in Chicago before joining Edmonton as a free agent during the off-season, made 34 saves but it was not enough to prevent his new team from losing 4-3.

The Blackhawks, who in their previous game overcame a 5-0 first-period deficit against Calgary to win 6-5 and match the biggest comeback win in the NHL, took early control against the Oilers when Patrick Sharp scored 51 seconds into the game. Chicago's Jack Skille and Kris Versteeg scored in the first and second periods respectively, before Cam Barker notched the Blackhawks' fourth and decisive goal with a slap shot with less than three minutes remaining.

Edmonton's Denis Grebeshkov scored with 48 seconds remaining to make the final minute nailbiting for the Chicago fans as the Blackhawks hung on for their third successive victory and ruined Khabibulin's return to the city. "It was weird to be on the other side. They actually have become a pretty good team," Khabibulin said. "They want to put a lot of pucks on the net. To beat them, we have to have a better game."

Antti Niemi, who was standing in for Khabibulin's back-up last season Christobel Huet, needed to make just 16 saves as Chicago outshot Edmonton 38-19. "We weren't very good," said the Edmonton coach Pat Quinn. "The score was flattering for us." Vinny Prospal scored his 200th NHL goal as the New York Rangers maintained their fine start to the season with a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Prospal scored twice - both on first-period power-plays - as the Rangers eased to their sixth consecutive win. Brian Boyle and Marian Gaborik were also on target for the Rangers, who moved to 6-1-0 and into a tie with their Atlantic Division rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins - the only side to defeat them this season - for the best records in the NHL. Ryan Smyth and Michal Handzus were on target for the Kings, who saw a four-game winning streak end.

"You just find a way to win when you're not on - and we were not on," the Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We were behind in every facet of the game but we still found a way to win. That's a good sign." Pittsburgh made it five wins out of five on the road with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Chris Kunitz beat Cam Ward in the sixth round of the shootout to seal the win.

The Dallas Stars posted a one-sided 6-0 win over the Nashville Predators, while Corey Perry scored twice as the Anaheim Ducks registered a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. * With agencies