|Post-Game Comments: M. Havlat / P. Sharp|
|Post-Game Comments: Patrick Kane|
|Post-Game Comments: N. Khabibulin|
|Post-Game Comments: Denis Savard|
|- Photo Gallery|
Chicago's Martin Havlat made a dramatic return to the lineup and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin made 21 stops while assisting on two goals against his former team as the Blackhawks whipped Tampa Bay 5-1 Wednesday at the United Center.
Havlat, the Hawks'top scorer last season, tallied on his first shot just 43 seconds into the game. He was making his first appearance since the season opener when he injured his shoulder, forcing him to miss the last 22 games.
On a 2-on-1 break, Havlat took a pass from Jason Williams and beat Johan Holmqvist with a backhander into the upper left corner of net for his 1st of the campaign.
Havlat added his 2nd of the night only 12 seconds into the middle period when Robert Lang won a faceoff and the 26-year-old winger fired a 30-footer past Holmqvist to make it 3-0 at that point.
In the opening period, the Hawks made it 2-0 at 5:31 with Kane setting up Dustin Byfuglien on a 2-on-1. Byfuglien picked up Kane's rebound to stuff in his 3rd of the season.
Khabibulin, facing Tampa for the first time since he helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2004, made key saves in the 1st period on the league's top scorer, Vincent Lecavalier, plus Martin St. Louis and Jan Hlavac. In the 2nd period, he came up big on shots by Brad Richards, Shane O'Brien and Filip Kuba.
He lost his bid for a shutout midway through the final period on a Lightning power play when Nick Tarmasky scored on a rebound in-close.
Kane, who picked up three assists to boost his season total to 7-18=25, set up Patrick Sharp on a power play to make it 4-0 at 2:20 of the final period. It was Sharp's 12th of the season, which leads the Hawks.
After the Tampa score, Toews registered his 9th goal when he got Kane's rebound off the backboards to slip it past Marc Denis, who replaced Holmqvist at the start of the period.
Khabibulin picked up assists on the last two Chicago goals and was named the game's #3 star with Havlat and Kane selected #1 and #2.
Coach Denis Savard called Khabibulin's play outstanding, especially in the opening period after the Hawks built up a 2-0 lead.
"I was concerned about this game after our long road trip and the fact that Tampa had four days off, but I was very pleased with our play."
The Hawks improved to 13-9-2 with a 7-5 record at home and will wind up the brief homestand Friday night (7:30 pm) against Phoenix at the United Center.
AP Notes: Chicago D James Wisniewski sat out the game with facial injury, but according to team officials could have played. RW Rene Bourque missed his fourth game with a broken thumb. ... Chicago LW Sergei Samsonov and D Magnus Johansson were healthy scratches. ... Lightning C Ryan Craig missed his first game with a left knee injury. ... Tampa Bay's Kuba returned after missing a game with an abdominal strain.... Lightning C Andreas Karlsson was a healthy scratch for the third straight game.
Center Brad Richards: "I would say we didn't start the way we finished. You can't start like that in the National Hockey League. You want to win, but every team wants to win. Just wanting to win is not quite enough; we haven't figured that out here the last week or so."
Defenseman Paul Ranger "We've got to start playing better on the road. We have to find that consistency and then play that way."
Assistant coach Mike Sullivan "I think we talk a lot as a coaching staff to the players about the process, the attention to the details, and that if we play the right way we get the results. Tonight was a case where we didn't give ourselves a chance to win. We want to become a team that's difficult to play against. We want to become a team that doesn't defeat itself. And I think tonight we were none of the above."