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Blackhawks top Eisbaren Berlin in NHL Global Series Challenge

Nylander scores tiebreaking goal in third period in 'college hockey atmosphere'

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

BERLIN -- The Chicago Blackhawks handled a lively crowd in the 2019 NHL Global Series Challenge and defeated Eisbaren Berlin 3-1 at Mercedes-Benz Arena on Sunday.

"It's like a college hockey atmosphere," said Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews, who played one season at the University of North Dakota and scored a goal. "They got chants going, people standing the whole time, so it's pretty cool to see. It definitely would be fun to have that as your home atmosphere. Obviously, it's something they feed off."

So did the Blackhawks, who wrapped up their preseason schedule with a solid performance in front of a sellout crowd of 14,200. Alexander Nylander scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period, and Patrick Kane had two assists.

Chicago, which went 3-3-1 in the preseason, will depart for Prague, Czech Republic, on Monday ahead of its season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2019 NHL Global Series at O2 Arena on Friday (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN360, NBCSP, NBCSCH).

"I thought it was exactly what we were looking for as far as a test," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Give a lot of credit to Berlin. They played extremely hard and pushed us, and I thought overall, we played pretty well. Of course, it would've made it easier on us to finish a few of our chances. But in a way it almost worked out for the best because it forced us to grind to get the result."

Video: CHI@EIS: Nylander roofs go-ahead goal in 3rd

Forwards Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat each hit the post in the first period, and Eisbaren goalie Sebastian Dahm made 16 saves in the period to bring more energy to the crowd, especially from fans sitting behind the goal in the Hartmut Nickel Kurve (named for the late German player who spent more than 50 years with Eisbaren, first as a player and later as a coach and adviser). 

"A little bit distracting, but I guess that's their job," Strome said with a laugh. "They definitely made it exciting and I think they had a good time with it."

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who spent the first period in the net in front of those fans, said he enjoyed it. 

"It was pretty cool," said Crawford, who made 16 saves in 31 minutes. "Definitely a different experience. It would kind of be nice to have something like that back home. I've heard a lot of rinks do that, [and] it just gives a little bit of atmosphere throughout the whole game."

But Toews quieted the crowd with 53 seconds left in the first period when he took a no-look pass from behind the net from Kane to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. 

Eisbaren forward Sean Backman took a pass from Marcel Noebels and beat Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner in alone at 14:38 of the second period to tie it 1-1.

However, Nylander, who was assessed a double minor penalty for high-sticking 5:11 into the third period, gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead at 10:12 of the third after Chicago defenseman Erik Gustafsson whiffed on an attempt. 

David Kampf scored an empty-net goal for a 3-1 lead with 1:20 remaining in regulation.

"I was really hoping for a good response after a game we didn't like (a 6-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday) because we have to live with this game until Friday," Colliton said. "So I think we're happy with the compete level. I think we did a lot of the things we're asking them to do. We executed, I thought we were much cleaner with the puck, and that's what it boils down to."

Video: Nylander, Blackhawks win Global Series Challenge

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