Rookie Kubalik scores twice, Blackhawks beat Ducks 4-2
CHICAGO - Dominik Kubalik is enjoying his first hot streak in the NHL, and the rookie was a difference-maker for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
Kubalik scored two goals, Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist and the Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-2.
Kubalik has goals in four straight games and 16 for the season, tying him with Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson for the NHL rookie lead. The first two-goal game of his career gave the Chicago forward eight points in his last five games.
“Very happy with Kubalik’s progression,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “Does a lot of good things away from the puck that allow him to be in a situation to score. He’s going to the net, being a shooter. Good to see.”
In his last 11 games, Kubalik has eight goals and five assists. And in this one, it didn’t hurt that that the 24-year-old forward eventually skated on a line with marquee stars Toews and Patrick Kane.
“We get lots of positive shifts, lots of shots at the net,” Kubalik said. “That’s the biggest thing.
“For me, it’s huge to play with those guys, so I’m just enjoying the time on the ice with them. You always want to make the most of it, but I’m just trying to do my job. I’m trying to do things that bring us success.”
Olli Maatta also scored for the Blackhawks, who rebounded after two losses to finish a four-game homestand 2-2-0.
Robin Lehner made 35 saves in his first game since hurting his right knee at Vancouver on Jan. 2.
Kane assisted on Kubalik’s first goal and extended his point streak to six games, with four goals and six assists in the stretch. He’s five points short of 1,000 for his career.
Max Jones and Rickard Rakell scored for last-place Anaheim, which has lost six of seven (1-5-1). John Gibson blocked 29 shots.
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins was upset with his team’s effort, especially in the second period, when Kubalik was left open near the net and connected twice on rebounds to give Chicago a 3-1 lead.
“The second period was just plain disappointing,” Eakins said. “It is a true privilege to be able to compete in this league and we didn’t compete in the second period. We just went out there and took up time on our shifts and that was the end of it.”
The game was tied 1-all after the first period.
Jones opened the scoring 3:37 in after Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy lost the puck behind his net. Ondrej Kase backhanded a quick pass in front to Jones, who beat Lehner with one-timer on the stick side.
About 30 seconds after clanking the puck off the right post, Toews skated down the left side and tied it at 8:13 with his 11th goal. The Chicago captain’s shot from the circle slipped between Gibson’s pads.
Kubalik put Chicago ahead 3-1 in the second.
He made it 2-1 at 4:20 when he backhanded in a rebound. Gibson stopped Kane’s point-blank backhand shot, but Kubalik shoveled in the loose puck.
The rookie backhanded in another rebound with 7:39 left in the second. This time, Gibson stopped Murphy’s drive from the top of the slot, but the puck popped out to Kubalik at the left side of the net.
Rakell cut it to 3-2 at 2:29 of the third, when he stuffed a rebound of Isac Lundestrom’s quick shot under Lehner’s left pad. Maatta restored Chicago’s two-goal lead 90 seconds later on a high shot from the left point that sailed past Gibson on the stick side.
NOTES: Jones left with an upper-body injury in the second period after being struck by a puck and didn’t return. … Ducks RW and leading scorer Jakob Silfverberg missed his second game with an upper-body injury. Silfverberg, named the Ducks lone All-Star, was excused by the NHL from the game in St. Louis on Jan. 25 to be with his wife for the anticipated birth of the couple’s second child. … Chicago C Dylan Strome (right ankle) sat out his second game. … After the game, the Blackhawks assigned F John Quenneville to Rockford of the AHL. ... Anaheim recalled C Chase De Leo from San Diego of the AHL and assigned RW Troy Terry to the farm team. De Leo didn’t dress for Saturday’s game. He’s from La Mirada, California, a few miles from the Honda Center.
Ducks: At St. Louis on Monday.
Blackhawks: At Ottawa on Tuesday, the first game of a three-game trip.