If there ever was a potential mismatchat least on paperit would be the Ottawa Senators against the Blackhawks in a shootout.
The format favors skilled offensive players, and in Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, the Senators have three of the most skilled players in the NHL. The Hawks, meanwhile, have struggled all season creating offense.
But for one day, the underdog had its day. Radim Vrbata had a pair of goals, including the winner in the shootout, as the Hawks rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 victory at the United Center.
The win was just the third of the season in 10 shootouts for the Hawks. Surprisingly, the Senators are just 2-3.
Michael Holmqvist and Vrbata scored in the third period to tie the game at 3-3 after the Hawks were badly outplayed in the first 40 minutes.
"We just rallied as a group," defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "We're sick and tired of losing. This our building and we have to come out and protect it."
The tying goal was originally credited to Seabrook, but the call was changed when replays showed Vrbata deflected the point shot.
Patrick Lalime, getting the start again after being lifted in Detroit on Friday night, kept the Hawks in the game in regulation. In the shootout, Spezza hit the goal post and Alfredsson shot high before Heatley scored to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead.
Jason Williams and Martin Havlat had been stopped by Senators goaltender Martin Gerber, leaving it up to Jeff Hamilton to force an extra round. Hamilton was a shootout specialist in the American Hockey League and has been the best Hawk in the format this season.
His backhander beat Gerber, giving Hamilton four goals in seven attempts.
"It helps going third. You can see what the goalie does," Hamilton said. "I saw right away with [Williams'] fake shot, [Gerber] dropped right down and the same with Havlat. That was my mind-set going in."
After Lalime stopped Antoine Vermette on the Senators' fourth chance, Vrbata also went to the backhand to beat Gerber. It was his first shootout goal in five attempts this season.
Much was made of Havlat facing his former team for the first time, but it was the same for Lalime, who had five very good seasons, including a 39-win campaign, with Ottawa.
"Of course it was special," he said. "I still have a lot of friends over there."
Hawks coach Denis Savard said he went back to Lalime because he "felt sorry for him in Detroit."
He was pulled midway through the second period Friday, although he was left to fend for himself most of the night.
Lalime improved his shootout record to 1-1. He dropped a decision to the Canucks on Feb. 16.
Holmqvist's goal was his first since Dec. 1, a span of 26 games. ... Tuomo Ruutu was the latest to be hit by the flu, keeping him out of the lineup for the first time since returning from a preseason knee injury. ... Tony Salmelainen was in the lineup for the first time since Feb. 9 but skated just four shifts for 3:21. ... Nikita Alexeev, acquired at the trade deadline from the Lightning for Karl Stewart and a draft pick, hasn't made much of an impact. After being a minus-1 Sunday, Alexeev is minus-5 in three games and his minutes have dropped from 17:01 in his first game to 9:25 Friday in Detroit and 6:33 Sunday.
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