CHICAGO – Rookie Brandon Saad scored with 3:21 left in the third period to snap a tie, and the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Friday night for their first pre-season win.
Set up by Jonathan Toews, Saad drove to the net and beat Washington’s Tomas Vokoun with a high shot from the left edge of the crease for the game-winner.
Viktor Stalberg scored two goals early in the third period for Chicago. Saad set up Stalberg’s first score.
Joel Ward and Matt Hendricks connected for Washington.
Formerly with Nashville, Ward scored for the first time since signing a four-year, US$12 million free agent contract with the Capitals in the off-season.
Both starting goalies—Chicago’s Corey Crawford and Washington’s Vokoun—made first their appearances of the pre-season and played the entire game. Crawford stopped 24 shots and Vokoun made 23 saves.
Vokoun, signed a one-year, $1.5 million free agent contract with Washington over the summer after four seasons with Florida. The 35-year-old is expected to compete for starting goalie duties with 23-year-old Michal Neuvirth.
Several of the Blackhawks’ top skaters, including defencemen Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, and forwards Andrew Brunette and Dave Bolland played their first games of the pre-season. Brunette made his first appearance as a Blackhawk after signing as a free agent over the summer.
Ward scored the only goal of the first with 6:18 left in the period when he parked in front of Crawford and deflected Alex Ovechkin’s shot from the point.
Stalberg put Chicago ahead 2-1 early in the third with goals on consecutive shifts. Stalberg scored from right side of the crease to tie it at 1 at 3:24 of the third to complete a 2-on-1 break with Saad.
Stalberg put Chicago ahead 2-1 at 6:56 when he circled behind the Washington net and banked the puck in off Vokoun’s stick.
Hendricks tied it 2-2 with 7:38 left in the third. He burst past the Chicago defence and lofted a backhand past Crawford.
Notes: The Blackhawks assigned 11 players to Rockford of the AHL on Friday, including David Toews, younger brother of team captain Jonathan Toews. … Before the game, the Blackhawks observed a moment of silence for the victims of the Sept. 7 plane crash in Russia that killed members of the KHL’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team. Among those killed in the accident were former Blackhawks Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev. … Chicago star forward Patrick Kane, who underwent surgery on his left wrist in July, has yet to play in a pre-season game.