By Bob Foltman
Tribune staff reporter
9:33 PM PST, December 26, 2006
Signed as a free agent to be the Blackhawks' second center and provide some offense, it took Arkhipov nine games before he scored his first goal. For three games, he was a healthy scratch.
But perhaps no one has benefited more from the appointment of Denis Savard as head coach than Arkhipov, who has found a role as a checking center as well as his offensive game.
Arkhipov had a goal and an assist Tuesday night as the Hawks moved above the .500 mark with yet another 2-1 game, this one a victory over the Dallas Stars.
Since Savard took over, Arkhipov has three goals and eight points. Both his points Tuesday came on the power play, the first a goal on a rebound of an Adrian Aucoin shot and the second when Martin Lapointe tipped his shot from the top of the right faceoff circle.
Before Tuesday, Arkhipov was averaging about 40 seconds per game on the power play. He had that in the first period alone Tuesday and ended the night playing 1 minute 28 seconds on the power play as the Hawks scored two power-play goals for the first time since Dec. 12 against St. Louis.
"When the coach trusts you, you want to play and show what you can do," Arkhipov said.
Since that Blues game, the Hawks had been 2-for-25 on the power play. So, in an attempt to shake things up, Savard put Arkhipov on the unit.
"He has great offensive ability," Savard said. "He's feeling good about himself and has a lot of confidence."
Arkhipov's goal came at 18:14 of the first period with the Hawks on a two-man advantage. Stu Barnes tied it for the Stars two minutes into the second period when he jammed a shot through Nikolai Khabibulin's pads.
It appeared Arkhipov had the game-winner when his shot eluded Marty Turco at 14:45 of the second, but the goal was credited to Lapointe.
After coming up empty in their first 12 meetings against Turco, the Hawks now have beaten him in two straightboth 2-1 at home.
Khabibulin had a relatively easy night, facing just four shots in the first period and six in the second before turning aside 11 in the third.
The Stars' best chance to even the game a second time came midway through the third. Matthew Barnaby slipped a shot through Khabibulin that rolled along the goal line before defenseman Brent Seabrook swept it away. Jon Klemm picked up the loose puck and fired it 10 feet over the net from the low slot.
So much for the new, high-scoring NHL. Tuesday was the ninth game this season for the Hawks that ended 2-1, five coming since Savard took over. The Hawks have won four of those.
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