CHICAGO -- It was a homecoming of sorts for a lot of people on Thursday night at the United Center.
The Chicago Blackhawks downed the visiting Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in front of 21,175 at the "Madhouse on Madison," but that wasn’t the only storyline of interest in this game.
There was also Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd returning to Chicago for the first time since helping the Blackhawks win the 2010 Stanley Cup – the evidence of which hanging high above their heads.
There was also the side story of Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff returning "home" after leaving his assistant GM position with the Hawks in the offseason to take over the Jets. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews had a little side interest as well -- after growing up in Winnipeg and rooting for the first iteration of the Jets, who moved away when he was just 8.
They’re officially back in Toews’ hometown now, but thanks to the Hawks they’re now 0-2-0 despite a game performance after coughing up a 2-0 lead and then falling behind 4-2 in the second period.
Slater scored both of his early in the first, as he deflected long blasts by defensemen Johnny Oduya and Ron Hainsey past Chicago goalie Ray Emery, who got his first start and first regular-season action in place of Corey Crawford.
Both goals appeared to go between the pads after changing direction in midair off Slater’s stick. It was exactly the kind of start that Winnipeg coach Claude Noel was hoping to see. The Jets came into this game after being routed 5-1 by the Montreal Canadiens last weekend in their return to existence in Winnipeg. Doubling their production in the first 7:29 of this game seemed like a perfect way to rebound, but the Hawks found a spark midway through the first after a timeout by coach Joel Quenneville.
Kane drew a tripping call on Tobias Enstrom, and Brunette made it count on the ensuing power play by lifting a rebound of Kane’s shot from the slot past Ondrej Pavelec to make it 2-1. Kane then knotted it 2-2 seven minutes later when his one-timer from the right circle off a pretty feed by Hossa from the boards beat Pavelec.
Hossa’s goal just 33 seconds into the second made it 3-2 Chicago, and Bolland pushed it to 4-2 a little about five minutes later with a snap shot from the left circle.
What looked like a possible rout, however, was abruptly halted by Wellwood, who deftly put the puck between his legs and into the net off a rebound to make it 4-3 with 6:24 left in the second.
The Jets came close to tying several times in the third, but Chicago's defense and Emery's big saves averted each effort -- including one last rush at the final horn.
1 - 0 WPG
2 - 0 WPG
Backhand shot -
2 - 1 WPG
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 CHI
Wrist shot -