BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Viktor Tikhonov will play in his first NHL game since the 2008-09 season and Corey Crawford gets the start when the Blackhawks face the New York Islanders Friday night.
For Tikhonov, who played the last four seasons in the KHL, getting back into an NHL game is a thrill.
“It’s been a long time,” said Tikhonov, whose last NHL game was April 11, 2009 (with the Phoenix Coyotes). “It’s always been my goal to get back in the NHL and this is going to be my first taste. I’m incredibly excited.”
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Tikhonov will replace Kyle Baun on the third line, where he’ll play with Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw.
“Bauner’s game was all right (on Wednesday). I just think we want to get everybody in here right off the bat, give everybody an opportunity,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We don’t mind changing if we don’t like the outcome or the way things are going.”
The Blackhawks got off to a bad start in the season opener against the New York Rangers. While they played better the final 40 minutes, they couldn’t recover enough in a 3-2 loss. Quenneville said that can’t happen again.
“I didn’t like our first at all. A lot of hesitation in our game and we gave up high-quality chances; could’ve been more than three,” he said. “I thought we got better as the game went on. I don’t know if it was the ceremony or not but we need better starts than that.”
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The Blackhawks are the Islanders’ first regular-season foe at the Barclays Center, the Islanders’ new home after spending 43 years at Nassau County Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. Quenneville called Barclay’s “a pretty sharp building,” although when it comes to his all-time favorite buildings, he’s a traditionalist.
“I used to like the old Chicago Stadium,” he said. “I liked the small buildings, the Aud (Buffalo Memorial Auditorium) and the old Boston Garden. Wasn’t very quick.”