Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing the Blackhawks this season has been their lack of skill and scoring ability from their forwards.
On the current roster they have three playersKyle Calder, Radim Vrbata and Tuomo Ruutuwho could be considered top-six forwards.
With Ruutu back in the lineup after ankle surgery, this could have been a time to see all three together in what could be a preview for next season.
But Hawks coach Trent Yawney doesn't want anyone taking liberties with Ruutuwho also has shown the ability to hold his own. For the last two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ruutu has been skating primarily with Martin Lapointe and Matthew Barnaby.
Nonetheless, Ruutu picked up his first point since Jan. 5 with an assist Sunday night as the Hawks snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory.
Calder scored the game-winning goal unassisted at 15 minutes 28 seconds of the third period for his 25th goal of the season.
Sunday was Ruutu's third game back and easily his best. After a particularly horrid outing Saturday in Columbus, in which he was a minus-4, Ruutu finished Sunday a plus-1 with four shots on goal and six hits.
He also had 4:24 of power-play time after not playing on the power play at all Saturday in Columbus.
"I didn't play well in the first two games, I was a minus-6, so that says something about my defense," Ruutu said. "I did a better job today keeping my legs moving."
Ruutu said in his first two games he was thinking too much instead of just playing and relaxing.
"I think I play better that way," he said.
After missing most of the last two years with injuries, Ruutu can use some games beyond Tuesday's season finale. He might play for Finland in the upcoming world championships.
"I think the more hockey he plays the better it is for him," Yawney said. "It's an opportunity to get some games in at a high level as opposed to after Tuesday not playing again for six months."
Assuming Nikolai Khabibulin starts Tuesday night, Sunday may have been Craig Anderson's last game as a Hawk. The Hawks are expected to pursue a veteran goaltender to backup Khabibulin next season.
Anderson picked up his first victory since March 7, also against Columbus. Vrbata (14th), Mark Bell (25th) and Dustin Byfuglien (second) also had goals for the Hawks.
Hall of Fame center Stan Mikita was in attendance. The Hawks recalled winger Matt Keith from Norfolk. Keith, a second-round pick in the 2001 draft, had 26 goals and 45 points in 72 games for the Admirals. Rene Bourque was scratched with a sore knee from a blocked shot Saturday in Columbus.
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