Khabibulin’s first start in return with Hawks will come Friday

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For the first time since May 22, 2009, Nikolai Khabibulin will play for the Chicago Blackhawks in a game that counts. He will get the nod on Friday against the New York Islanders, according to CSN Chicago.

The 40-year-old goaltender agreed to a one-year contract over the summer to serve as Corey Crawford’s understudy. This is Khabibulin’s second stint with the Blackhawks as he winds down a career that’s already spanned 795 NHL games.

Although Khabibulin isn’t likely to challenge Crawford for the starting job after the younger netminder won the Stanley Cup and inked a six-year, $36 million extension, Khabibulin should still play a significant role on the team. Crawford has never played in more than 57 NHL contests in a single season and Chicago will participate in 18 sets of back-to-back games in 2013-14.

That being said, Khabibulin emphasized in September that he will be comfortable with whatever role the Blackhawks give him.

He had a 2.54 GAA and .923 save percentage in 12 games with Edmonton last season.