CHICAGO — Carl Dahlstrom’s hopes for a memorable return to United Center on Saturday came true.
The Winnipeg defenceman, claimed on waivers from Chicago just before the NHL regular season began, helped orchestrate a critical third-period tying goal by centre Andrew Copp. The visitors secured the optimum two points on Mark Scheifele’s howitzer in overtime.
Dahlstrom said the mission against his former teammates was uncomplicated.
"My only thought was I really wanted to win," he said, in a post-game chat. "Obviously, playing with these guys I know all of them. So it’s special. Definitely, a fun experience and I loved that we came out with the win."
Dahlstrom, 24, a second-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2013, said he traded some good-natured barbs with the fellows in red.
"I wasn’t expecting anything else from them. That’s a fun part of the game. I was really good buddies with Connor Murphy, so we had a couple of, nothing gritty, just fun talk."
Dahlstrom dressed in 49 games for the ’Hawks over the past two seasons. He was on the Chicago roster in late September when the team travelled to Prague for the season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers — part of the NHL’s Global Series — but was claimed by Winnipeg and joined the Jets in time for matchups with the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.
He was a healthy scratch Thursday as the Jets hosted the Minnesota Wild, but head coach Paul Maurice turned to him against Chicago.
"Guys get fired up playing against their old team," Maurice said, in a pre-game interview.
Dahlstrom replaced rookie blue-liner Ville Heinola, who cracked the roster out of training camp to open the season and participated in five games to begin the season.
Some warts popped up in the Finnish teen’s game in the victory over the Wild. He was a minus-one in a 5-1 win, coughing up the puck three times including a turnover to Ryan Hartman on goalie Connor Hellebuyck’s doorstep that resulted in a 1-0 lead for Minnesota 13 minutes into the first period. Hartman swept his skate across, purposely or inadvertently tripping up Heinola, grabbed the puck and knocked it past Winnipeg’s startled goaltender.
Maurice’s mild criticism didn’t include a indictment of that giveaway, even though making the decision to dart in front of your own net with an opponent in hot pursuit comes with a degree of risk.
"It was a penalty, it wasn’t his fault. So I don’t hold that one against him," Maurice said. "Other than that, he looked like the rest of our (defence). They worked real hard, they had some good moments (and) some things that we’d like to clean up. We just made sure we communicated that with him. And (playing) back to back (as) an 18-year-old, it’s not a bad time to take him out."
Laurent Brossoit returns to the cage tonight. Maurice confirmed the back-up goalie will get the start against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins at Bell MTS Place.
Brossoit split his first two starts, allowing four goals in a 5-4 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils before yielding four in a 4-1 defeat to the New York Islanders two days later.
The last three starting gigs went to Hellebuyck.
Maurice said he’s intent on sticking to a plan on the distribution of labour for his goaltenders — with Hellebuyck the busier of the two — based on a hectic start to the ’19-20 schedule.
"Laurent’s going in (Sunday). Nine (games) in 15 (days) to start. We thought six (Hellebuyck) and three (Brossoit) or five and four would be the right thing, and we’re probably still on that," he said.
By Thanksgiving Monday, Winnipeg will have crossed seven meetings off the 82-game slate. A dozen of the NHL’s 31 squads will have played five or fewer by then.
"You’d prefer not to get this heavy a load with a younger back end, an inexperienced back end, you’d like more practice time, for sure," he said. "(You learn) where you’re at physically. If you’re going to have a heavy part of the schedule, you’d rather have it at the start than the end. Surviving it’s key. But I think we’re all right."
The Jets play five straight at home, including the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, the Islanders on Thursday, Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, Oct. 20, and the L.A. Kings on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Sami Niku, sent down to the Manitoba Moose on Friday morning, skated for the AHL club that night at Bell MTS Place in a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Marlies but was a late scratch Saturday afternoon as the eastern squad earned a 4-0 shutout.
Moose head coach Pascal Vincent told reporters the young defenceman was pulled because of a lower-body injury that occurred a few days ago. Niku pushed through it Friday but wasn’t available for the rematch.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).