Rookie winger Kris Versteeg keyed the Blackhawks’ come-from-behind win Wednesday night as Chicago beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. Versteeg registered two critical assists in the third period that set up goals from Martin Havlat and Jonathan Toews to earn the victory.
“This is a huge win,” said Versteeg. "It’s good to come out on top against a team like Anaheim; it shows our character.”
The Blackhawks started the game fast, taking 17 shots on goal in the first period. However, the Hawks’ only goal in the first two periods came mid-way through the first on a Patrick Sharp one-timer.
Anaheim answered with a power play goal from Teemu Selanne in the second period and in the third on a Chris Pronger goal during the first shift of the period. With Pronger's goal, the energy had clearly shifted in the Ducks' favor.
“We lost our momentum a little bit through the second,” said Toews. “But we never gave up on this win tonight. We knew we could win it all along.”
That faith was rewarded when Havlat and Toews both scored goals late in the third off great feeds by Versteeg to put the Hawks up 3-2, and Dave Bolland’s empty-netter sealed the victory.
“We got it back in front and Steeger made a great play,” said Toews of his game-winning goal. “You’ve got to get your stick on those when they come so it’s nice to get one.”
Head coach Joel Quenneville said that the game was meaningful for his entire team, but really showcased Versteeg’s playmaking abilities. Versteeg currently leads all NHL rookies with 15 assists and 22 points this season.
“The guy who should get a lot of the credit was Steeger who made two great plays. Those were highlight reel plays,” said Quenneville. “He’s played with some good players but he’s certainly earned more opportunities to play with those guys.”
The win ended the Blackhawks’ three-game winless streak and also marked goaltender Cristobal Huet’s first victory since November 9.
“It’s two big points, but it means more for the team than for me,” Huet said. “They came up big when we needed it.”
The Blackhawks will try to make it two wins in a row as they travel to Detroit to take on the archrival Red Wings Saturday night.