Hawks score—and are sore

United CenterJaroslav SpacekSan Jose SharksJassen CullimoreAdrian AucoinCam BarkerChicago Blackhawks

What was a glorious first victory of the season for the Blackhawks was tempered with questions about the health of Eric Daze, Adrian Aucoin and Tuomo Ruutu.

The Hawks scored early and often in blistering the San Jose Sharks 6-3 before a crowd of 11,823 at the United Center.

After struggling on the power play in the season opener Wednesday, the Hawks converted on 3 of 7 chances Friday with Ruutu, Tyler Arnason and Jassen Cullimore finding the back of the net.

Pavel Vorobiev also scored a pair of goals after being moved onto a line with Arnason and Ruutu because winger Daze was a late scratch after apparently injuring his back.

"He took a shot [in pregame warmups] and pulled something and went off the ice," Hawks general manager Dale Tallon said.

Daze skated Friday morning, but went back into the dressing room shortly after pregame warmups. Michael Holmqvist, who wasn't scheduled to play, dressed for his first game of the season. Tallon said Daze had X-rays taken.

The Hawks were also short a defenseman after Aucoin left the game midway through the first period with a groin injury and didn't return.

Aucoin said he fell on a shot and felt something pull.

"We're still unsure [of the severity]," Aucoin said. "They didn't have to carry me off the ice, so that's good."

Any issues with Daze's back need to be taken seriously. He already has had three surgeries for herniated discs and played just 19 games in 2003-04. He had his third surgery in December 2003.

Daze said in training camp he wasn't sure if his back would hold up for an entire season.

"It's something I'm going to have for the rest of my life and have to be cautious with," Daze said at the start of training camp. "I'm hoping for the best. That's all I can really do."

In Wednesday's opener, Daze didn't have a shot on goal for the first time in 75 games and played just 11 minutes 56 seconds. He played less than 16 minutes in each of the last three exhibition games.

Arnason said he believes Da-ze's back has been bothering him for a while.

"It's something he's going to have to take care of before he comes back," Arnason said. "I had a feeling he wasn't feeling his best."

Tallon said Daze has told him he was feeling fine.

"He was just a little out of shape," Tallon said. "We're concerned, obviously. I have to talk to the doctors. I just don't know."

Daze is perhaps the Hawks' purest goal scorer. At 30, the question would be whether he could come back again from another serious injury to the back. In the last two seasons there has been hockey, Daze has played a total of 73 games.

Daze is to make $2.28 million this season. The Hawks hold an option for next season.

Ruutu pronounced himself fine after seeing a back specialist Thursday. Ruutu said after not skating for a year, his back was sore from training camp and wanted to have it checked out. Coach Trent Yawney said Friday morning, however, that the appointment with the specialist was made before training camp. That indicates Ruutu's back may have been bothering him before camp started.

Dump-ins

Defenseman Brent Seabrook tied two Hawks records Friday. His four assists were the most assists and points by a rookie in a game. … It was fight night at the United Center with four bouts. In two games so far, the Hawks have had five fights. … Cam Barker and Jaroslav Spacek were scratches again. Yawney said Spacek's rib injury has healed and he could be available Sunday against Columbus.

rfoltman@tribune.com

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