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Arnason answers call in overtime
Among the disappointments in the first two months of the season for the Blackhawks--not counting the back injuries to Tuomo Ruutu and Eric Daze--the lack of production from Tyler Arnason would have to rank high on the list.
Arnason went into the season as the Hawks' No. 1 center and had been in a free fall down the depth chart until finally landing on a wing.
The changes did little to improve his production though, as he went into Wednesday's game against the New York Rangers without a goal in 13 games, dating back to Nov. 2 in St. Louis.
Arnason finally got back into the goal column 1 minute 20 seconds into overtime to give the Hawks a 2-1 victory and run their home winning streak to three.
The goal came while the Hawks were on a four-minute power play, courtesy of a high-sticking penalty on New York's Martin Rucinsky that cut Mark Bell.
Arnason took a pass from rookie defenseman Brent Seabrook and blasted a shot that Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist got a piece of before watching it trickle behind him and into the net.
"I put all I had into it," Arnason said.
If the Hawks are going to be a factor in the Western Conference playoff chase, they'll need Arnason to begin scoring more. Hawks coach Trent Yawney has said that Arnason's history is scoring in bunches, and perhaps the game-winner Wednesday will begin a spurt for him.
"He's been getting chances, they just haven't been going in," Yawney said.
Twice during his 13-game drought, Arnason has had six shots on goal in a game and another time he had five. He acknowledged that he may be streakier than most players in the NHL.
"When I'm good, I'm really good," Arnason said. "When I'm bad, I'm ... average."
That may be a generous assessment, but either way, with new center Patrick Sharp and winger Rene Bourque, the Hawks are hoping to find another line that can provide scoring. Sharp made his Hawks debut and played 16:39 with one shot on goal. He was on the ice for the game-winner.
"They have the potential to be a very effective line," Yawney said.
Like Arnason, Jaroslav Spacek broke a 13-game goal drought with his fourth of the season at 9:11 of the second period. The goal came 18 seconds after the Rangers took the lead on a goal by Petr Prucha that ended a listless first 30 minutes.
The Hawks' penalty killing, solid of late, played a major role in securing the two points. The Rangers were 0-for-9 on the power play, including a two-man advantage for more than a minute and a four-minute double minor to Nikolai Khabibulin late in the second period.
Jaromir Jagr, who spent 10:55 of his game-high 25:12 of ice time on the power play, was kept off the scoresheet.
"If there was a reason we lost the game, it was we had a lot of power plays and just didn't score," Jagr said.