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game recap

Lehner wins first game against former team, Blackhawks defeat Islanders

Makes 38 saves for Chicago, which is 4-2-0 in past six

by Brandon Cain / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Gilbert's first career NHL goal

NYI@CHI: Gilbert buries backhand for first NHL goal

Dennis Gilbert slips a backhand between Thomas Greiss' pads for his first career NHL goal and to tie the game at 1 in the 1st

  • 00:36 •

CHICAGO -- Robin Lehner made 38 saves to win his first game against his former team, and the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the New York Islanders 5-2 at United Center on Friday.

Lehner, a Vezina finalist with the Islanders last season, signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks on July 1. He is 10-6-4 in 22 games this season.

"I felt like my last four starts felt pretty good, feeling pretty good in the net," Lehner said. "It was a little bit different than the other times I've played against former teams because they're a great group of guys in there."

 

[WATCH: All Islanders vs. Blackhawks highlights]

 

Dennis Gilbert scored his first NHL goal, and Duncan Keith and Dylan Strome each had two assists for the Blackhawks (16-17-6), who have won four of six.

Ross Johnston and Casey Cizikas scored for the Islanders (23-10-3), who are 1-3-1 in their past five games.

Video: NYI@CHI: DeBrincat beats Greiss from the high slot

Thomas Greiss allowed three goals on 11 shots in 11:56. Semyon Varlamov, who signed a four-year contract with the Islanders on July 1, made 17 saves in relief.

"We've had a tough stretch and it's within this room that we have to check ourselves a little bit here and reset, because we're not playing the way we had been that got us to this point and these last five games haven't been our identity," Islanders forward Anders Lee said. "We haven't played to who we are. We have to figure this out quickly."

Johnston finished a give-and-go with Josh Bailey to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 5:50 of the first period.

Gilbert, playing his 16th NHL game, slipped a backhand from the slot between Greiss' legs to tie it 1-1 at 7:34.

"I always joke around that I always go five-hole in practice, I always go five-hole in pregame warmups on my last shot before I go off the ice," Gilbert said. "It was kind of funny that it ended up being a five-hole goal of all things to squeak through."

Dominik Kubalik gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead at 9:46 when his one-timer from the slot re-directed off the stick of Islanders forward Nick Leddy. It was his third goal in the past four games. 

"I'm just trying to work around the net, and I try to be open in the slot," Kubalik said. "That's what I'm trying to do and it's working right now."

Alex DeBrincat ended an eight-game goal drought, scoring on a wrist shot from the high slot at 11:56 to increase the lead to 3-1.

Jonathan Toews made it 4-1 from the right face-off circle 50 seconds into the third period.

Matthew Highmore scored his first of the season when his cross-ice pass banked off Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock to make it 5-1 at 3:03.

Cizikas scored shorthanded at 16:32 for the 5-2 final.

"You get as much as you put in, and we haven't put enough in lately in terms of our structure, commitment, even our accountability to each other," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "We got a little cheat in our game, I think we're playing full. It's hard to be hungry when you're full." 

Video: NYI@CHI: Toews beats Varlamov from the right circle

 

They said it

"We need to play hard and we can't take any shifts off. We're shooting ourselves in the foot with dumb plays. It has to be consistent and we have to be feeding off each other out there." -- Islanders forward Casey Cizikas

Video: NYI@CHI: Cizikas beats Lehner for SHG

"I thought we managed the puck better. There was stretches where we didn't and we threatened to give them life and we got a few saves, which helped us." -- Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton 

 

Need to know

Islanders forward Mathew Barzal's three-game goal/point streak ended. He had five points (three goals, two assists) during his streak. … Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield had three hits and three blocked shots in 19:37 after being out Monday with the flu. … Islanders forward Matt Martin had a game-high nine hits. … The Blackhawks are 12-for-12 on the penalty kill in their past five games. … Toews has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past three games. … Blackhawks defenseman Slater Koekkoek had three hits in 15:37 in his first game since Dec. 8. … Chicago forward Patrick Kane has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his past seven games. 

 

What's next

Islanders: At the Minnesota Wild on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, MSG+, NHL.TV)

Blackhawks: At the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; FS-O, NBCSCH, NHL.TV)

Video: Balanced offensive attack lifts Blackhawks to win

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