COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Many of the household names are gone from the Chicago
Blackhawks, sacrificed to give several budding stars a chance to take over.
Tuomo Ruutu and Kyle Calder are making the most of the opportunity.
The 21-year-old Ruutu had two goals and an assist, and 25-year-old Kyle
Calder added the winning score and two assists to lead the Blackhawks to a 4-3
win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
``That's what happens when veteran players leave,'' Chicago coach Brian
Sutter said, harkening back to his days as Calgary's head coach from 1997 to
2000. ``I can remember ... us saying we'll never know how good Derek Morris,
Robyn Regehr and Jarome Iginla are until a couple of the older guys leave. All
of a sudden those guys became stars overnight and everybody knew them.''
Columbus scrambled back from a 3-1 deficit to pull even early in the third
period. But Calder redirected Ruutu's slap shot from the top of the right
circle with 3:50 left.
``He knows that I'm going there, so I was able to get my stick on it,''
Calder said of Ruutu. ``I just heard it hit the post and it was in the net.''
Stephane Robidas added a short-handed goal and an assist for the Blackhawks,
averaging four goals over their last six games.
David Vyborny and Anders Eriksson each scored a goal and had an assist for
Columbus, which lost its fifth in a row. Tyler Wright added the other Blue
Jackets goal and Rick Nash had a career-high three assists.
The Blue Jackets tied it at 3 on Wright's power-play goal 5:09 into the
Columbus weathered a four-minute double-minor for high-sticking on Eriksson
midway through the period before Calder got his 18th goal.
Craig Anderson, who shut out the Blue Jackets 7-0 in January, covered
Vyborny's tip off a pass from Nash with 30 seconds left.
``There's a lot of positives here,'' Anderson said after stopping 39 shots.
``A lot of guys here want to prove to everybody that they can play in this
league. You have first-year guys that probably wouldn't have expected to be in
the NHL this year, and they're here. And they're proving they can step up and
do a job that a 10-year veteran can do.''
The Blackhawks scored six seconds into a Columbus power play in the opening
period. Chicago won the faceoff, with Robidas skating to the right point before
firing a shot that deflected off the skate of the Blue Jackets' Andrew Cassels.
It was Robidas' third goal of the season and extended his points streak to
Columbus, which tied a season high with 42 shots, pulled even moments later
when Nash fed Vyborny for a one-timer from the high slot. Cassels, activated
earlier in the day after missing 22 games with a broken foot, picked up an
Chicago answered with Ruutu's 11th on a long rebound.
Ruutu's second goal made it 3-1 early in the second period. He skated past
two defenders to beat goaltender Marc Denis, who had lost his stick earlier
when Calder collided with him.
``I'm improving. I'm much more confident with the puck,'' Ruutu said. ``Now
I'm holding the puck, I'm not just trying to throw it into space.''
Eriksson ran his points string to four with his sixth goal, one under his
career high. His shot from the left circle appeared to be redirected by Nash,
who came into the game tied for the NHL lead in goals with 33. Nash was first
credited with the goal before it was given to Eriksson after a review.
Nash blasted the officials after the game for not calling a slashing penalty
on Jim Vandermeer late in the first period. His missed the start of the second
period while getting his wrist wrapped. He'll undergo tests on Thursday.
``It's how guys get broken wrists _ when refs don't make the calls,'' Nash
said. ``No penalty. That's why there's so many broken wrists in this game. They
hand out the memos and talk about the slashing, but they don't do anything.''