CHICAGO – Viktor Stalberg didn't have the kind of training camp he wanted after being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the Chicago Blackhawks are pleased with him now.
In a turbulent start to the season through 20 games, Stalberg has been one of the Hawks' biggest bright spots – even working his way up to the first line for a stretch. On Sunday, the 24-year old Swedish forward came up big again in front of 21, 244 at the United Center.
Stalberg's sixth goal of the season gave Chicago a much-needed a 3-2 overtime win against Anaheim and ended the Hawks' three-game winless streak. It also ended Anaheim's six-game unbeaten streak. Stalberg deflected a slap shot by Duncan Keith past Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller to make sure that Chicago (9-9-2) didn't head into a forthcoming six-game, 10-day road trip on a sour note.
"It's a big step forward for us," he said. "No matter what I think we were pretty confident we'd find a way to come away with two points some way tonight. Now we're leaving our building for awhile, so hopefully it'll get our team going and we’ll come back here stronger when we return."
Stalberg was awarded the Hawks' gaudy heavyweight championship belt that was made famous during their run to the 2010 Stanley Cup championship. It probably could have gone to goalie Corey Crawford, who picked up the win while giving starter Marty Turco a night off.
Crawford made 24 saves, including several key stops in the third and OT to keep the Hawks' hopes for winning alive. On the other end of the rink, Hiller was just as impressive for the Ducks (10-8-1).
Hiller made 40 saves despite getting hit in the face with a shot on Saturday in Chicago during a practice and needing stitches below his left eye. One of Hiller's best saves came early in overtime on Tomas Kopecky, who got the puck alone in the slot from Jonathan Toews seconds after getting out of the penalty box for a boarding call at 19:07 of the third.
"(Saturday) night when I saw him, he looked real good," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said of Hiller. "He actually looked a little bit worse tonight than (Saturday) night when I saw him, but he said he was fine to play. He played very, very well for our hockey club."
Chicago came into the game with an unimpressive 5-3-1 record in games they led after two periods and almost watched it get worse by coughing up another late lead. Ducks forward Corey Perry, who scored both Anaheim goals, potted his eighth of the season just 3:36 into the third to tie it 2-2 and eventually force overtime.
"We didn't play the way we really wanted to play, but we got a point out of it," Perry said. "(We) have to take the positive. They took it to us in the second and third, and Jonas stood tall for us."
Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane scored the other goals for the Blackhawks, who outshot the Ducks 43-26 for the game and 29-16 through the first two periods.
"It's nice winning at home," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "That was a nice feeling. After the game you assess how you play, and I thought that was probably as good of a game as we've played all year."
Quenneville changed up his team's power play by adding Hossa and Kane, and the decision paid off with two goals on four man advantages. Hossa and Kane also finished with a goal and assist each.
Chicago's first power-play goal came off Kane’s stick just 3:37 into the game. He swatted in his seventh goal of the season from the bottom of the left circle off a rebound. The lead was short-lived, as Perry scored his first of the game at 4:34 of the first to tie it, beating Crawford on an unassisted tally.
It went to the first intermission tied 1-1 and stayed that way for almost half of the second -- despite the Hawks outshooting the Ducks 13-2 before Hossa's goal gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead at 11:24, also during a power play.
It was Hossa's eighth goal of the season and came off a rebound of his own shot. Kane initially fed a cross-ice pass that Hossa one-timed from the right circle off the pad, but the puck came right back to him and he buried the second chance backhanded through the five-hole.
It was Hossa's first goal in three games since returning to the lineup last week after missing five games with an upper body injury and his first point in seven games dating to before his injury.
"After the injury, it took a few games to get into it," Hossa said. "I felt like the power play was good and we had lots of good things going on. We've got skilled players and if you work hard on the special teams you're going to be successful."
The Blackhawks definitely need to be more successful, especially on home ice. The win improved Chicago's home record in 12 games this season to just 5-7-0, and now the Blackhawks are hitting the road for two weeks. Chicago begins a six-game road trip at Edmonton on Wednesday night.
"Everyone was pretty happy after the game tonight," Kane said. "The biggest thing is we haven't been playing good on home ice, so it's nice to get two points here and leave the fans with something to get excited about."
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