Robin Lehner makes 38 saves as Blackhawks beat Islanders 5-2

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – DECEMBER 27: (L-R) Dylan Strome #17 and Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks congratulate Robin Lehner #40 after a win against the New York Islanders at the United Center on December 27, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Islanders 5-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — Robin Lehner made 38 saves against his former team, Dennis Gilbert scored his first career goal and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the New York Islanders 5-2 on Friday night.

Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kubalik also scored for banged-up Chicago, which bounced back nicely from Monday night’s ugly 7-1 loss to New Jersey. Matthew Highmore was credited with his first goal of the season when his third-period centering pass went off Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock and into the net.

New York lost for the fourth time in five games in the opener of a three-game road trip. Ross Johnston and Casey Cizikas scored for the Islanders, and Thomas Greiss made eight saves on 11 shots before he was replaced by Semyon Varlamov in the first.

It was the first game for the Blackhawks since defensemen Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan were placed on long-term injured reserve. Seabrook and de Haan each had season-ending right shoulder surgery earlier Friday.

Chicago also played without forwards Andrew Shaw, Drake Caggiula and Brandon Saad and defenseman Adam Boqvist due to injuries.

The Islanders jumped in front when Johnston finished a give-and-go with Josh Bailey 5:50 into the first, but the Blackhawks grabbed control with three goals in a span of 4:22.

Gilbert tied it at 1 when he skated to the low slot, got a slick pass from Dylan Strome and slid a backhand between Greiss’ legs at 7:34. Gilbert then celebrated with a big fist pump while Kirby Dach retrieved the puck from the net for him.

Kubalik got his 11th goal of his rookie season when his shot went off the stick of Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy and past Greiss at 9:46. DeBrincat then stopped an eight-game drought with his first goal since Dec. 8, leading Islanders coach Barry Trotz to bring in Varlamov.

The Islanders turned up the pressure in the second, but Lehner made 16 stops to preserve Chicago’s 3-1 lead. He denied Michael Dal Colle in front at 13:55, and got some help from Gilbert when the sprawling defenseman blocked Anthony Beauviller’s shot with about three minutes left.

Lehner spent last season with New York, setting a career high with 25 wins and six shutouts and finishing with a 2.13 goals-against average. He talked to the Islanders about a new contract, but ended up signing a $5 million, one-year deal with the Blackhawks in free agency.

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