Though it was hardly the start that goaltender Cristobal Huet had imagined for himself as a member of the Blackhawks, Patrick Sharp and Andrew Ladd made Huet a winner in his debut for Chicago, defeating the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in a comeback effort.
Huet earned the victory with 28 saves, and held the visiting Wild scoreless after the first period.
Huet, who signed a four-year contract with the Blackhawks in July, got off to a rocky start by giving up three goals in the first period, including one 36 seconds into the game. He surrendered two power play goals in the period as well, and the Hawks ended the first period in a 3-0 hole on goals by Minnesota’s Stephane Veilleux, James Sheppard and Petr Kalus.
“We haven’t had any practices set up for [our goalies] yet,” explained Head Coach Denis Savard. “I think they’re timing’s a little off – that’s normal. But [Huet] finds ways to win, and that’s why we got him.”
The Hawks made a game of it in the second period, with Andrew Ladd and Patrick Sharp adding tallies off of rebounds. Sharp registered another goal to tie the game early in the third, and Ladd scored the game-winner at 6:28 off a feed by Jonathan Toews to seal the victory.
“I liked him,” said Savard of Ladd’s performance. “I know that he brings lots of grit in his game, and he’s a goal scorer. He’s a solid player for us.”
While they didn’t register on the scoresheet, Savard praised some of the rookies who were fighting for spots on the team. First-round draft pick Kyle Beach distinguished himself early, earning a 5-minute major fighting penalty on his first shift in the NHL, at 2:17 in the first period.
“Everyone played their roles pretty solidly,” he said. “I was proud of Akim [Aliu] and [Kyle Beach], it was the first NHL game for them. It’s a lot to ask. And [Troy] Brouwer was outstanding again, I loved his game. [Jack] Skille worked hard. He brings a lot of energy.”
As Savard promised, Patrick Kane played the game at the center position, but Savard added that it’s unlikely that Kane will see regular-season time there. More likely, Kane will be back on the wing, playing on a line with Toews as the center in a line combination that worked so well last year.
“There’s no doubt – I know in my heart that [Kane] and Toews should be playing together. But we’re going to try different things here in camp. [But] in the last three games we’re going to really bear down on what I want and what is best for our club.”