The Blackhawks started slow in the opening minutes, but made a Game 1 statement with a 6-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon in Alberta. Chicago now leads the best-of-five Qualifying Round series, 1-0.
Calder Trophy finalist Dominik Kubalik had five points on the night with two goals and three assists, while Jonathan Toews (2G, 1A), Brandon Saad (1G, 1A) and Duncan Keith (2A) each had multi-point nights of their own.
Corey Crawford notched his 49th all-time playoff win, making 25 saves in the Game 1 victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Two goals. Three assists. A factor in five of six Chicago goals. Yeah, Dominik Kubalik.
STAT OF THE AFTERNOON: Prior to Kubalik's Game 1 performance, five players all-time had recorded five points in a playoff game for the Blackhawks: Mush March (3/26/36), Doug Bentley (3/28/44), Stan Mikita (4/4/73), Steve Larmer (4/30/90) and Jonathan Toews (5/7/10)
Kubalik's five points marks just the fourth time in NHL Playoff history that a rookie had 5+ points in a game (Jean Beliveau, MTL, 3/25/54; Mikko Leinonen, NYR, 4/8/82; Barry Pederson, BOS, 4/8/82 and Joe Mullen, STL, 4/11/82) and the most ever in a playoff debut.
UP NEXT: Chicago and Edmonton meet for Game 2 on Monday at 9:30 p.m. CT
A five-goal first period got started early as the youthful Blackhawks were called for a too many men on the ice infraction just 1:27 into the game. The NHL's best power play went to work, where the Oilers struck converted at 2:34 as Connor McDavid walked in from the point and beat Crawford through a screen in front for a 1-0 lead.
From there, the Blackhawks came to life in the opening frame.
Dylan Strome created a chance on his own just a few minutes later, picking up a mishandled puck from Oilers netminder Mike Smith behind the goal line on the forecheck, and then banking a shot off the derriere of Edmonton's goalie in retreat back to his net and in to tie the game 1-1 at 5:51.
The Blackhawks got a power play of their own just over a minute later, where Kubalik backhanded a puck to a wide-open Toews on the far side of the ice. The captain picked his corner and beat Smith glove-side to put Chicago up 2-1 at 7:56, and they never looked back.
Chicago's top line made it a 3-1 game off a draw just before the halfway point of the period as Kubalik sent the puck back to Olli Maatta at the point. The defenseman wired a shot on goal that deflected off of Brandon Saad and into the net for a 3-1 lead at 9:17.
Coming out of the break, the Oilers struck on an early-period power play for the second straight frame, this time as Leon Draisaitl converted a feed from McDavid in front after a scramble at the far side of the Chicago goal to cut the lead to 4-2 at 4:13 of the second period.
With three assists on the day, it was Kubalik's time to find twine with a pair of power-play goals. First, the rookie converted on a one-time feed from Duncan Keith off the opening draw of a man advantage, just five seconds in, for a 5-2 lead at 6:32 of the second period.
Then, it was a deflection of a Keith shot from the point at 17:35 of the second as the duo combined on the power play for the second straight time to give the Blackhawks a 6-2 lead after 40 mintes of play.
After a scoreless three-quarters of the third period, Edmonton found their third power play goal of the game late as James Neal smacked home a loose puck off a lengthy scramble in front of Crawford's goal to cut Chicago's lead to 6-3 at 16:07.
The Oilers continued to keep it interesting just seconds later as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tipped home an Oscar Klefbom point shot with the extra attacker on the ice at 16:43 of the third.
The Blackhawks would hold on for the final three-plus minutes for the 6-4 victory and 1-0 series lead.