For Chicagoans, the Pat Foley and Eddie Olzcyk “tree-tirty-tree” is a kitschy tradition, so beloved by some that there’s vocal disappointment when broadcasting the actual game gets in the way of calling that time in the “tird” period.
So, when Nickolai Khabibulin took home his 333rd win against the New York Islanders Friday night, Foley had to have been chomping at the bit to announce it.
Blackhawks fans merely released a sigh of relief that the 40-year-old backup goalie once called the ‘Bulin wall (silent K’s can be flustering and if any town loves nicknames it’s home of Tazer/Captain Serious, Sharpie, Kaner, and the gang) made 17 saves for the 3-2 win.
He last donned an Indianhead sweater in April 2009–a shutout against the Redwings. Last year, in Edmonton, he played just 12 games. So far this year, his duties have included manning the door to the bench and stopping pucks at practice.
“Sometimes it’s tough when the goalies don’t get a whole lot of shots, so he was great tonight,” veteran Blackhawk Duncan Keith told media. “He’s a little more talkative now than he was back four or five years ago, so it’s good to have him back.”
The Blackhawks seemed to be in charge of the first period.
Rookie Joakim Nordstrom scored his first career goal, assisted by fellow Swedish countryman Niklas Hjalmarsson, giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the first. Jonathan Toews tallied the second.
But, with just under a minute left in the first, Josh Bailey scored. Kyle Okposko followed 50 seconds later.
Michal Handzus put the lead back in Chicago’s favor in the second, with the help of Keith. While holding onto leads has been dicey so far this season, the Blackhawks managed against New York.
Despite two penalty kills in the third period and the Islanders’ last-ditch goalie pull effort, Chicago walked away with a regulation win.
“We know what we have to do to protect those leads and to play smart late in games,” Toews said. “I think we’ve improved on that. We’ve improved, especially on the penalty kill, and I think that kind of showed in the defensive effort we made.”
In other game highlights, proving hockey players are in fact the toughest athletes, Islanders’ John Tavares performed his own dentistry on the bench after taking a puck to the mouth in the second period.