A sellout crowd welcomed the Chicago Blackhawks
back to the United Center after a 2-week road trip. Thanks to a late comeback, it was a happy homecoming.
Jonathan Toews' tie-breaking goal with 1:35 left in regulation sparked the Blackhawks to a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night. It was the Hawks' first game at home since Nov. 16 following a 6-game trip. They started the trip 3-0, but were 0-2-1 in the final three.
Toews beat goalie Jonas Hiller from the edge of the crease after taking a backhand pass from Kris Versteeg.
"We had a couple of close chances around the net," Toews said. "Then Steeger made a great play. You've just got to get your stick on those."
Dave Bolland added an empty-netter with 9 seconds left as the Blackhawks improved to 7-1-4 at home.
"This was a big win," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "The circumstances turned in the second period. The two points are welcome. Anaheim was playing their game to a 'T.'"
Patrick Sharp gave Chicago a 1-0 lead with the only goal of the first period. Anaheim's Teemu Selanne tied it midway through the second, and the Ducks took a 2-1 lead 48 seconds into the third period when Chris Pronger's screened wrist shot got between Cristobal Huet's pads.
Martin Havlat tied it with 5:45 left when he beat Hiller after a setup by Duncan Keith.
"Steeger and Duncs made a great play on Havlat's goal to tie it up," Toews said. "Right there, we said we can win this game. That was a huge turning point in the third."
Hiller stopped 37 shots in Anaheim's second straight loss.
"He gave us a chance, we couldn't ask more from our goalie," coach Randy Carlyle said. "I thought after the first period we were in control and did some things well. We started to play our game. We were in a position to win this hockey game, and these are the ones that are tough."
Toews' goal came after a shot bounced off the end boards and back into the slot. Versteeg was able to work the puck free and send it across the crease to the Hawks' captain.
"It seemed kind of lucky. They got the bounce," Hiller said. "It's kind of sad to lose a game that way. On an experienced club like ours, those things shouldn't happen. We had the lead until the end. What else do you want in a road game. It was a bad, bad loss."
Oilers 5, Stars 2 | Video
Skating one forward short and playing two games in two nights caught up with the Sean Avery-less Stars, who saw their two-game winning streak ended in Edmonton. The Oilers got goals from five players as they ended a five-game losing streak in Edmonton.
Mike Modano had both goals for Dallas, which had beaten the Oilers seven times in a row at Rexall Place.
Shawn Horcoff ripped a long slap shot past Marty Turco 71 seconds into the game, and the Oilers were never headed.
"I just tried to shoot the puck on the net," Horcoff said. "I don't know if I caught Marty by surprise. It was nice to get an early lead."
Lubomir Visnovsky made it 2-0 with 12 seconds left in the period with a power-play goal, and Marc-Antoine Pouliot banked a shot off Turco and into the net 3:41 into the second period to give the Oilers a 3-0 lead.
"We were a little flat at the start of the game," Modano said. "I thought we looked better as the game went on, but it's tough to play catch-up early and win."
Modano gave the Stars some life when he tucked a rebound behind Mathieu Garon 67 seconds into the third period and whipped a wrist shot into the net with 1:40 to play.
"He's an elite player," Horcoff said. "You can't give him opportunities in front of the net. We gave him two, and he capitalized on them."
Ales Hemsky reassured the sellout crowd by hitting the empty net with 51 seconds left, and Andrew Cogliano added some window-dressing by beating Turco with 12 seconds left.
Avery missed his second straight game after being suspended by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. His absence forced the Stars to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, and the lack of a full bench showed.
"We were lacking some physical and mental energy and we got down early," coach Dave Tippett said. "I was proud of the way we pushed in the third, but we couldn't get it back where we needed. We are a team that has expended a lot of energy the last few days. We don't have a full bench, and that takes a toll on you."
Wild 4, Blues 0 | Video
Two nights after their defensive style deserted them, the Wild reverted to form. Niklas Backstrom stopped 22 shots as Minnesota took over the lead in the Northwest Division.
"We played a completely different game. We were ready from the first shift to the last shift," said Backstrom, who earned his third shutout of the season one game after being pulled in a 6-5 loss to Colorado in which he allowed all six goals before being lifted after the second period. That capped a six-game stretch in which he went 2-4-0 with a 3.57 goals-against average. Before that, he had won 11 of his first 15 starts and had a 1.92 GAA.
"He's back the way he was," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Everyone was open Monday and we couldn't stop the puck. Tonight, we were a lot sharper."
Backstrom said the Wild responded well after the embarrassing loss to the Avs.
"After that game, we were very embarrassed," Backstrom added. "I think it was good for our whole team to get this. We can't do anything about Monday. This was a good way to bounce back."
Eric Belanger opened the scoring 10:28 into the second period, lifting a backhander over Chris Mason's shoulder for his 100th NHL goal.
Andrew Brunette and Marek Zidlicky added power-play goals in the third period, giving Minnesota 10 goals with the man advantage in its last three games. Antti Miettinen was awarded an empty-netter with 28 seconds when he was dragged down by Carlo Colaiacovo going in alone.
Brunette's goal was the 200th of his NHL career, but he downplayed the importance of the milestone.
"Maybe when you're done playing, you look back at all the things you were able to do," he said when asked if he appreciated the accomplishment. "Right now, it's just another goal. It was a big win, and hopefully we can get on a roll."
The Blues, who were shut out for the third time this season, have lost three of their last four.
"I think it's back to old school hockey where you tighten up defensively and wait for the other team to make a mistake, then capitalize on it," right wing David Backes said. "They definitely capitalized. We had a few chances where we don't bury the puck, and Backstrom definitely made a few great saves tonight."
Senators 5, Thrashers 1 | Video
The Pizza Line was back in business at Scotiabank Place, where Ottawa snapped its offensive slump and continued the Thrashers' slide.
Dany Heatley had a goal and two assists and both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson scored for the Senators. Heatley opened the scoring with his 13th goal just 78 seconds into the game and set up goals by Spezza and Alfredsson later in the first period.
"We knew they played last night and obviously tried to get the jump on them early," Alfredsson said of the Thrashers, who lost 5-4 at Montreal on Tuesday. "It was nice to get some goals early, to help settle us down a little bit. We probably won the game in the first period."
Brendan Bell added a goal in the second period and Shean Donovan scored in the third for Ottawa, which improved to 3-1-2 in its last six games.
Eric Boulton scored his first goal in 47 games for Atlanta, which is 0-4-1 in its last five games and has won just one in its last nine.
"It doesn't really feel that hot," Boulton said. "It's nice to be on the board, but it didn't mean anything."
Boulton scored just 1:35 after Heatley's goal, but Spezza's power-play goal at 6:12 put Ottawa ahead to stay, and Alfredsson made it 3-1 at 15:31.
"We're expected to generate offense when we play together and we did a good job of tonight of finding each other," Spezza said.
Many spectators in the Scotiabank Place crowd of 17,215 got a shock when they witnessed a man falling about 25 feet from the upper deck during the second intermission. According to witnesses, the 21-year-old man sailed headfirst past and over a few stunned onlookers in the rows ahead of his seat before clearing the low railing at the bottom of the third level and falling onto a row of seats in the level immediately below.
Following the game, Senators president and CEO Roy Mlakar confirmed the accident, which he said was the first of its kind in the arena's 13-year history. He said the man, who was conscious while receiving on-site treatment for lacerations, was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure.