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Blackhawks won't say die

by Brian Compton

The Blackhawks defeated the Avalanche 2-1 yesterday. Check out Chicago's winning goal
Some random thoughts as we congratulate Teemu Selanne on becoming the Ducks’ all-time leading scorer:

Not Giving Up – The Chicago Blackhawks refuse to go down without a fight.

Martin Havlat and Dustin Byfuglien found the back of the net for Denis Savard’s club Sunday in a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche. The victory was Chicago’s third straight, and the Hawks improved to 4-0-1 in their last five games. They are now just six points behind the Vancouver Canucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Chicago has missed the postseason eight times in the last nine years, so you can understand why the capacity crowd of 21,275 in attendance on Sunday was pumped when the final horn sounded.

''Hopefully we'll continue to play that way all down the stretch,'' Savard said. ''We're gelling. Whether we get in (the playoffs) or not, we're going to pay the price every night.''

What’s Going On? – Sorry for the Four Non Blondes reference, but you do have to wonder what is happening in Motown.

The Detroit Red Wings, who seemed invincible throughout the first half of the season, lost their sixth-straight game on Sunday in a 1-0 decision to the host Dallas Stars. With the victory, Dallas trimmed Detroit’s Western Conference lead to just eight points.

"We had lots of chances," Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom said. "A loss is a loss. It's terrible, what can you say? We have to find a way to get out of this slump."

They better … or else the Stars may pull even closer in the standings.

"It would be tremendous to catch them," Stars forward Niklas Hagman said. "Anything is possible."

He’s right. I mean, the Four Non Blondes just made the Water Cooler discussion.


Finally! – It took 10 chances, but the New York Rangers finally solved a Western Conference team.

Chris Drury’s broke a 1-1 tie 5:44 into the second period, lifting the Blueshirts to a gritty 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at Madison Square Garden Sunday. Ryan Callahan had the other two goals for New York, which was 0-7-2 against Western Conference opponents this season entering Sunday’s action.

More importantly, though, the win was the second straight for the Rangers as they aim to stay in the thick of the playoff race. It also came just 24 hours after a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

"This is one of the games we will want to remember based on playing back-to-back afternoon games, playing a big team, playing a reputable team," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "No question, this is one of those games you look at and circle and say 'Remember this one here, guys.'"


Manny Legace’s Day Off – Manny Legace may have been dressed and on the ice on Sunday, but he sure didn’t have to do much in the St. Louis Blues’ 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

One day after facing 44 shots in an overtime loss at Nashville, the Blues gave Legace some much-needed rest by holding the Blue Jackets to only 18.

Blues coach Andy Murray gave his team a pep talk following Saturday’s loss. Whatever he said, his team appeared to have gotten the message loud and clear.

''We wanted to obviously make Manny's job a little bit easier,'' Murray said. ''I reminded them quite strongly before the game, challenged a few guys, and indicated last night our goaltender played his butt off for us and we didn't help him very much.

''There's a few guys that had to elevate their game and I mentioned who those individuals were.''


Fit To Be Ty-ed – While we all wait to see what happens to Ty Conklin when a healthy Marc-Andre Fleury returns, the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to benefit from Conklin’s play.

Conklin made another 36 saves on Sunday in a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. With the victory, Conklin improved to 15-4-3 since Fleury went down with an ankle injury.

''When your goalie's giving you the performance like Ty gave us, it gives your team some confidence,'' Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. ''He's a big part of the reason why we had success.''

Pittsburgh has also experienced a large amount of success despite the absence of captain Sidney Crosby over the last 13 games. Sunday’s win helped the Pens pull even with the New Jersey Devils in the Atlantic Division. But when a reporter asked Petr Sykora, ‘Who needs Crosby?’, the Penguins’ forward’s head nearly exploded.

''Oh, come on, how can you even say that?'' Sykora responded. ''I'm not even going to answer that because Sidney's the best hockey player in the world. And he's going to be the key guy for us in the playoffs.''

Seventh Hell – The Philadelphia Flyers continue to find ways to lose. If they don’t turn things around quickly, they’re going to find themselves on the outside-looking-in when it comes to the playoff picture.

Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens was Philadelphia’s seventh-consecutive defeat. The reeling Flyers are just one point ahead of the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference postseason race.

After the Flyers’ latest loss, coach John Stevens held a closed-door meeting. We don’t know what was said, but I’ll go out on a limb and say whatever Stevens said couldn’t be repeated on an after-school special.

''We've got to start doing everything in our power that's going to be in the best interest of our team winning hockey games,'' Stevens said.

Flat Flames – The Calgary Flames learned the hard way on Sunday that if you don’t play for 60 minutes, chances are those two points will be out of reach.

The Anaheim Ducks bombarded Mike Keenan’s club for four goals in the second period at the Honda Center en route to a 4-2 win over the Flames. Miikka Kiprusoff was pulled after the second, just two nights after allowing six goals to the Los Angeles Kings.


''You can't win if you don't play a full 60 minutes, whether you start bad or have a lull in the middle,'' Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. ''It just doesn't work in this League, and it showed again tonight.''

Said Keenan: ''We had a good start in the first period, then we really got undressed in the second.''

Yikes. Time to put on the suspenders, fellas.

Get Him The Puck – When it comes to the Minnesota Wild’s team philosophy, it’s pretty darn simple: When Marian Gaborik scores, they win.

Gaborik scored twice on Sunday night – including the game-winner with 4.4 seconds left in overtime – as the Wild earned a 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators at the Xcel Energy Center.

Dating back to Nov. 21, Minnesota has won 17 games in a row on nights when Gaborik finds the back of the net. His two tallies helped the Wild improve to 25-0-1 when leading after two periods.

''He's playing his best hockey since he's been here,'' Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said.

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