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Thrill was gone; now fun is back
There was little doubt Nikolai Khabibulin and the Blackhawks were in desperate need of a victory Thursday night.
Khabibulin came up big when needed most to help the Hawks snap their five-game losing streak and his own 10-game skid, making several huge saves in the third period of the Hawks' 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
"We played with desperation," said the veteran goaltender, who stopped 26 Calgary shots, including 12 in the third period when he faced a five-on-three situation and another Flames power play shortly thereafter. "I thought I played some good games during the losing streak. I could have probably won a game before this, but it didn't happen."
Khabibulin was aided by three Calgary shots that banged off posts.
But he made his biggest saves on point-blank attempts by Kristian Huselius with 4 minutes 23 seconds left in the third period and Jarome Iginla with 27 seconds left to preserve the victory.
"[Calgary] had a few chances right in tight, and [Khabibulin] was there," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "He had good positioning all game long."
The Hawks took a 1-0 lead on Keith's goal at the 7-minute-14-second mark of the second period when he fired a slap shot from just above the right circle past Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.
Ex-Hawk Adrian Aucoin's goal at 11:30 tied it 1-1. But Patrick Sharp gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead with 4:53 left in the second after taking a pass from Martin Havlat and firing a one-timer from between the circles past Kiprusoff.
Yanic Perreault added an empty-net goal with 12 seconds to go as the Hawks won for the first time in four games during this season-high seven-game trip.
"It was a big win," Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "It makes us realize we can play with anybody. Calgary is a great team, and we stuck with them all night."
Toews' returnA day after saying there was "no chance" Jonathan Toews would play Sunday night in Vancouver, Hawks coach Denis Savard reconsidered. It's possible the rookie center could see plenty of ice time against the Canucks on the power play and killing penalties.
Toews hasn't played since spraining his left knee Jan. 1 but has been practicing with the team for a week.
Martin the madmanHavlat failed to record a shot during Wednesday night's 4-1 defeat at Edmonton, and Savard said he had a talk with the star winger.
"I told him, 'You have to play well away from the puck,' " Savard said. " 'You have to compete in tough areas and get to the net. [I've seen you play] like a madman. I want you to be playing like a madman like you're capable."