The 24-year-old set the NHL rookie record for most points in a playoff debut with five.
Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Dominik Kubalik did not miss a beat after being away from game action for nearly five months. After a strong showing in the Hawks’ exhibition game on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues in which he scored two power-play goals, Kubalik dominated the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1’s 6-4 victory with two goals (both on the powerplay as well) and three assists for five points. Kubalik, Jonathan Toews, and Brandon Saad racked up 10 points in total as a trio and were dominant whenever they touched the ice.
“The camaraderie on the team is at an all-time high,” Saad said. “Any time you’re scoring goals, you’re hooting and hollering. It was just a great feeling overall today.”
Oilers captain Connor McDavid opened the scoring on the powerplay just 2:34 into the contest, but the Blackhawks responded with four unanswered goals to jump ahead 4-1 by the end of the first period. Dylan Strome evened the score at 5:51 by banking the puck off Edmonton netminder Mike Smith, and Toews gave the Hawks the lead two minutes later after a tremendous feed from Kubalik from behind the net.
Saad added a goal on a redirect off an Olli Maatta shot from the point at 9:17, and then Toews tallied his second goal of the contest moments later thanks to yet another great pass from Kubalik. At one point in the game, Kubalik had three assists in just 3:00 of ice time.
Leon Draisaitl was able to cut the lead to 4-2 on the powerplay less than five minutes out of the first intermission, but the Blackhawks responded once again with Kubalik rifling a one-timer past Smith to regain the three-goal lead. The Czech forward found the back of the net for a second time with a man advantage towards the end of the period to extend the lead to 6-2.
The Oilers went on to score two goals in 36 seconds during garbage time, but the Blackhawks were able to hang on for a 6-4 win in Game 1. Corey Crawford finished with 25 saves for the victory in net, and he looked comfortable for the most part in his first full start since the NHL paused the regular season back on March 11.
“It’s been a day to day evaluation of where [Crawford]’s at. We don’t want to put him in a situation where he’s not ready,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “He was good today, made some big saves. Couple deflections and scrambles around the net where they were able to score.”
Colliton became the youngest NHL head coach to win a Stanley Cup Playoff debut (35 years, 201 days) since current Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford (34 years, 82 days) won his debut on May 6, 1995 with the Quebec Nordiques.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series between the Blackhawks and Oilers is on Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, and NBCSCH.
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