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Friday, October 11, 2013
Notes: Hawks finish job against Islanders

By Scott Powers

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks put their words into action Friday.

After emphasizing the past few days about closing out games stronger following late collapses in their previous two games, the Blackhawks executed that plan and held on for a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.

The Blackhawks had given up a 2-0 lead in the third period and eventually lost in a shootout to the Tampa Bay Lightning two games ago and gave up a goal in the final minute of regulation to fall to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.

"The last couple games we weren't happy with some plays that we felt cost us some points," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We feel we played some pretty good hockey, but you want to get those points. At the end of the day, we had six possible points and ended up with three, kind of left some on the table.

"It was nice tonight to play good defense and finish it off and not have a mental lapse that cost us point here."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was proud how his team didn't let their recent slipups affect them mentally Friday.

"Tonight could be one of those nights where we maybe fall in that trend where you start squeezing the stick a little bit too hard late in the game when you're only up one goal," Toews said. "But I think we maintained our composure. We know what we got to do to protect those leads and to play smartly in games, and we improved on that. We especially improved on the penalty killing. I think that showed on the defensive effort we made. So it was a big win for us."

Quenneville mixing: Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville made some changes to his lines before Friday's game and made even more during it.

Quenneville's lines to start the game were Bryan Bickell-Toews-Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp-Michal Handzus-Marian Hossa, Marcus Kruger-Andrew Shaw-Brandon Saad and Brandon Bollig-Joakim Nordstrom-Ben Smith. By the end of it, the lines were Saad-Toews-Kane, Sharp-Shaw-Hossa, Bickell-Kruger-Nordstrom, Bollig-Handzus-Smith.

Quenneville was pleased with how Saad performed on the top line. Saad had played on the first line most of last season and was moved to the third line to begin this season.

"I liked how he responded playing against the other team's top guys," Quenneville said. "He did a nice job. Give up two goals in the last minute of the [first] period, you're not happy. I thought he's been playing well all year long, and he's played with [Toews] all year last year. He looks like he's comfortable there."

As for Bickell, who was demoted to the third line Friday, Quenneville said he thought he had to play more of his own game. Bickell played on the third line most of last season and then excelled on the top line in the playoffs.

"Just got be careful trying to do too much because you're playing with [Kane and Toews]," Quenneville said. "You don't want to kill plays. Against top guys, that's what they'll do to you."