Nikolai Khabibulin will make his first start in regular-season action for the Chicago Blackhawks in four years against the New York Islanders on Friday night at the United Center.
Khabibulin, 40, spent four seasons with the Hawks from 2005-09 and returned as a free agent on July 5 after spending four seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. The nod to Khabibulin comes on the eve of the Hawks first back-to-back games this season.
“I don’t think it’s an ideal scenario but you want to get in and feel some pucks,” Khabibulin told the Tribune. “We have at the same time (had) a lot of practice time. That gives me a chance to work on things.”
Said coach Joel Quenneville: “We’re happy to get him playing. He’s going to be a very important part of our team. He gives us experience and it gives him a chance to play. We’re happy to play in front of him and we get to see him play here at the United Center and be a part of our team.”
The Russian national, signed a one-year contract worth $1.7 million with a $300, 000 bonus on July 5. In 2013, he went 4-6 in 12 games with a .923 save percentage (347-for-376) and 2.54 goals-against average.