The Chicago Blackhawks
are counting on rookies Patrick Kane
and Jonathan Toews
to help them return to the playoffs. It looks like the kids may be up to the challenge.
Kane, the top pick in June’s Entry Draft, had his first NHL goal and set up two others, including the go-ahead goal with 1:25 remaining Friday night as the Blackhawks beat the Colorado Avalanche, 5-3 ( 700K ).
Kane got his first goal with 5:24 remaining in the first period, ripping a wrist shot from the slot past Jose Theodore to finish off a 2-on-1.
“It was just a matter of time and it's nice to get that one, get rolling and do it in a win,” Kane said.
The goal also capped a three-goal first period for the Hawks that began with Toews’ highlight-reel goal seven minutes into the game.
Toews, the Hawks’ top pick in 2006, took Kane’s feed while speeding through the neutral zone, raced past a forward and burst between defensemen Scott Hannan and Brett Clark before beating Theodore.
“It happened so fast,” Toews said. “I was lucky their D-men were a little flatfooted. I don't think they expected me to come in with that much speed. I was pretty pumped.”
Chicago coach Denis Savard, who scored dozens of electrifying goals as a Blackhawks center, was impressed.
“We've haven't seen a goal like this in a long time,” Savard said. “It was the highlight tape goal of the week, highlight goal of the year.”
Colorado coach Joel Quenneville was impressed, too – with Toews, but not with his team.
“He’s going to be a nice player,” he said of the No. 3 overall pick in 2006, “but we can’t give up a 1-on-3 goal.”
The Avs, who rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat Calgary on Tuesday, weren’t deterred by being down 3-0. Wojtek Wolski scored late in the second period, and third-period goals by Marek Svatos and Ryan Smyth tied the score.
But with less than two minutes remaining, Savard put his kids out again and was rewarded. After Toews was denied in close, Kane picked up the rebound and fed defenseman Magnus Johansson at the left point. Johansson’s slap shot was tipped in by Tuomo Ruutu to put the Blackhawks ahead.
“It was a good shot from Johansson and I was lucky enough to tip it,” Ruutu said. “The last couple of seasons, we've been losing by one goal. Now we're winning by one goal. It gives us a lot of self confidence.”
Robert Lang hit the empty net with 50 seconds left as the Blackhawks kept the Avs winless away from the Pepsi Center.
“We have to get better on the road,” Quenneville said. “We can’t keep getting behind like that.”
Colorado captain Joe Sakic felt that despite the rally, the game was lost early.
“We got off to a terrible start,” he said. “They were flying in the first period. They have some young, skilled guys and you definitely have to pay attention to them.”
Blue Jackets 3, Sabres 0 | 700K
Columbus has a message for the rest of the NHL: We’re not the same old Blue Jackets any more.
“We're a team that wants to win, and we're not going to settle for mediocrity,” center Michael Peca said after scoring a goal and an assist in the Jackets’ win at Buffalo. “We’re not going to settle for complacency. We're no longer the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets. We want to be
a force in our conference.”
Columbus, which has never finished higher than 11th in the Western Conference, now has seven points in six games, its best start since joining the NHL in 2000.
Peca had his first goal as a Blue Jacket and set up one by Rick Nash, giving Pascal Leclaire more than enough offensive support. The Jackets made it easy for Leclaire to earn his third shutout by allowing Buffalo only 21 shots.
“He's on the mark,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “That’s what you need to win in the game right now. ... You have to have great goaltending.”
Peca opened the scoring by backhanding Nash’s rebound behind Ryan Miller at 6:31 of the second period. Miller used his blocker to stop Nash on a penalty shot at 12:08, but 62 seconds later, Nash came out from behind the net and ripped a wrist shot from the inside of the right circle past Miller’s stick. Nikolai Zherdev added an empty-netter with 58 seconds left in the game.
“They made it tough for us,” Miller said. “We didn't get our offense going the way we wanted to at all.”
Buffalo, last season's highest-scoring team, was shut out for the first time since April 2006 – a span of 95 regular-season games – and had its three-game winning streak snapped. The Sabres hadn’t been blanked at home since Dec. 5, 2005, when San Jose beat them, 5-0.
“We started OK, but they kind of got the momentum. We had some early power-play chances, but they were positioned well and not too over-aggressive. They didn’t get caught.”
Kings 4, Canucks 2 | 700K
Los Angeles finally got the goaltending it needed to win a game on the road. It helped that the Kings were playing Vancouver, a team that’s struggling at home.
Mike Cammalleri had his league-leading eighth goal in the Kings’ three-goal burst in second period. Jack Johnson got his first NHL goal and Alexander Frolov had his first of the season as L.A. scored three times in less than seven minutes.
“We played really solid in the first, really solid in the third," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "In the second we had those few moments. We're not putting a complete game together and until we put a complete game together as far as execution and effort wise, it's very tough to win in the NHL."
Cammalleri’s goal, which came when he whacked in his own rebound, frustrated Vigneault.
“When one of the top scorers in the NHL gets three whacks at a puck in front of our net, there's a good chance it's going to end up behind (our goalie),” he said.
Give a two-goal lead, Jason LaBarbera did the rest, making 26 saves for his first NHL victory since April 2006. Matt Cooke scored in the first period for the Canucks and Mattias Ohlund made it close by scoring with 5:47 left in regulation. LaBarbera made big saves on Taylor Pyatt and Brendan Morrison before Dustin Brown’s empty-net goal assured the Kings of their first victory in four road games this season. The Kings had lost eight road games in a row, dating back to last season.
The Canucks have lost four of their five home games and have been outscored 20-11 at GM Place.
Material from wire services and team Web sites was used in this report