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No ducking the factsHawks tied for 1st
November isn't even three days old and there are still 69 games left to play. But anyone who predicted the Blackhawks would be tied for the lead in the Central Division at this point probably should start house-hunting in Las Vegas.
The Hawks pulled even with the St. Louis Blues after finishing off a four-point weekend with a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Sunday night at the United Center.
"It takes some character to do what we've done," coach Brian Sutter said.
After being spanked Oct. 18 in Atlanta, the Hawks were 1-4. Shovels to throw dirt over them already were being taken out of the shed. Since then, they're 4-1-3.
"It was a matter of us getting some wins soon or our season being over," center Tyler Arnason said.
The Hawks jumped on the reeling Ducks with a pair of goals 31 seconds apart late in the first period to take control.
Steve Sullivan scored his second power-play goal in as many nights when he sent a slap shot from the high slot through Jean-Sebastien Giguere at the 13-minute-46-second mark.
On the next shift, Mark Bell picked up a loose puck, carried it into the Anaheim end and found Scott Nichol, who ripped a shot over Giguere for his first goal of the season.
Anaheim coach Mike Babcock, who must be wondering what happened to the team that went to the Stanley Cup finals last season, called a timeout, emptied his bench and had every player on the ice in front of him.
But that didn't seem to accomplish much. The Ducks unraveled, giving the Hawks six straight power plays at one point.
The Hawks picked up their second power-play goal when Kyle Calder banged home a rebound, with Giguere lying on the ice, at 3:24 of the third period.
Anaheim defenseman Ruslan Salei had knocked Arnason on top of Giguere.
Sunday's game did have a scary moment, however. Rookie Tuomo Ruutu left the game early in the first period after slamming face first into the boards while trying to check Anaheim's Andy McDonald. Ruutu bruised his shoulder.
"It was ugly," Ruutu said. "I just lost my balance. It's a little sore, but I expect to play Friday [at Nashville]."
Michael Leighton, making his fourth start of the season, picked up his first victory of the year with another steady performance in goal.
Leighton was 14 minutes away from a shutout when Vinnie Prospal fired a shot that went off the stick ofAlexander Karpovtsev and past Leighton.
Sunday was the third straight game in which Leighton has allowed only one goal.
"The team has been playing well for me," Leighton said. "All I need to do is make the saves that I need to make."
After playing seven games in 11 days, the Hawks will get some much-needed rest before Friday's game in Nashville. But the way things are going, who wants to stop?
"We're feeling pretty good about our game," defenseman Nathan Dempsey said. "You kind of want to keep playing."