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Hawks win in Havlat's return to Chicago

NHL.com @NHL

Martin Havlat had a quiet return to the United Center, but Patrick Kane was able to electrify the crowd.

Kane scored the 50th goal of his NHL career in spectacular fashion and Cristobal Huet made it back-to-back strong starts with a 20-save performance as the Chicago Blackhawks skated off with a 3-1 win and sent the Minnesota Wild to their eighth straight road loss to begin the season.

Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer scored first-period goals for Chicago (7-3-1), which finished off a four-game homestand with its second win in a row and extended its lead in the Central Division to three points over Columbus.

Havlat, who led the Blackhawks in scoring last season before joining the Wild via free agency, was stopped by Huet on the game's first shot. He didn't have another one and finished minus-2 in just over 20 minutes of ice time.

''It was strange playing against the same guys you were with the last three years,'' said Havlat, who was unhappy that the Blackhawks didn't re-sign him. ''They got the first goal, and Huet played well. We just couldn't put anything in, and that was it.''

Andrew Brunette's team-leading seventh goal brought the Wild to within a goal at 3:29 of the third, but Kane responded at 6:54 with an unassisted goal, his fourth of the season.

Kane stole the puck from Eric Belanger in the right corner and skated behind the net, looking to pass to an open teammate in front. Unable to find one, he weaved his way out to the lower left circle, wheeled around and with a precision shot beat Niklas Backstrom over his right shoulder and just under the crossbar.

''It's got to be a perfect shot,'' said Kane, who has worked on it during practice. ''It's lucky, too -- kind of shoot and pray it goes in.''

To say his teammates were impressed would be an understatement.

''A pretty sick shot,'' Bolland said. ''There was only an inch or two.''

"It was strange playing against the same guys you were with the last three years.  They got the first goal, and Huet played well. We just couldn't put anything in, and that was it."
-- Martin Havlat

It was the fourth goal of the season for Kane, who doesn't turn 21 until Nov. 19.

''(Team media relations director) Brandon Faber made me feel real good,'' Kane said. ''He said I've got 560 more to catch Bobby Hull.''

Bolland opened the scoring at 9:23 and Brouwer struck on the power play with 2:47 remaining.

Huet, coming off a 27-save shutout against Nashville on Saturday, improved to 4-2-1 with consecutive wins on home ice.

Backstrom stopped 32 shots for Minnesota (3-8-0), which is unbeaten on home ice but has spent most of October away from the Xcel Energy Center, with disastrous results. The Wild are the first team since the 1996-97 Penguins to lose their first eight road games.

''If we want to make the playoffs, we have to play about .500 on the road, so there are a lot of things we have to catch up on,'' Backstrom said. ''It doesn't matter if the system is new. You have to find a way to win … and pretty soon. Time is running out.''

-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com


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