Blackhawks goalie Jeff Glass was on his way toward the bench. The stray puck was on its way toward the empty net. The Blackhawks were on their way toward embarrassment.
But defenseman Gustav Forsling saved face — and an own goal from newcomer Anthony Duclair — when he swatted the puck from the crease with 1 minute, 23 seconds left in the first period of the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory over the Central-leading Jets on Friday night at the United Center.
A delayed penalty against the Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien prompted the chaos.
After Forsling took a gift from the Jets, Blackhawks center David Kampf gave himself — and the Blackhawks — one when his stick caught a piece of Connor Murphy’s shot with 15:09 left in the second period.
As a result, Kampf found himself celebrating his first NHL goal with friends wearing matching sweaters on his 23rd birthday after he broke the scoreless tie. He’s the first player in Blackhawks history to score his first goal on his birthday, according to Elias.
“We wanted a guy in the middle,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said in late December after Kampf was recalled. “It has been an important spot for us. We think he can add speed; There’s upside with him offensively.”
Jan Rutta was the next Blackhawk to push the puck past Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck. He whizzed his second goal in three games into the net with 3:35 left in the second after receiving a redemption pass from Duclain. Kampf was credited with the secondary assist on that goal, making it his first multi-point performance in his ninth game.
Not to be outdone, 32-year-old rookie Glass, starting his fifth career game and first since Jan. 5, stopped 31 shots to help push the Hawks back into the second wild-card spot by virtue of their 22 regulation victories compared to the Wild’s 21.
Several of his saves were of the spectacular fashion, including two in a row late in the third against Bryan Little. First he stopped Little, who was coming from his left, then Glass stretched out his right leg to stop the subsequent shot.
“The scouts have found goalies who are having a tough time trying to find a place to play,” Quenneville said. “They get an opportunity here and I like how they’ve all seized it. … Glasser’s story is pretty amazing. It’s a competitive world out there.”
A few minutes after Patrik Laine pinged one in off the post with 3:38 left to cut the Hawks’ lead in half.
The Jets were 6-0-1 in their previous seven games and had scored 15 goals in their last three.
Paul Skrbina’s three stars
1. Jeff Glass, Hawks: Had 31 saves in fifth career start.
2. Jan Rutta, Hawks: Fifth goal gave Blackhawks lead for good.
3. David Kampf, Hawks: First career goal; also had an assist for first multi-point game of his career.
Up next: Vs. Red Wings, 11:30 a.m. Sunday; NBC-5, WGN-AM 720
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