As the NHL's regular season enters its final stretch, the Blackhawks are going to keep running into teams desperate for points.
Tuesday night, it was the Anaheim Ducks hitting town clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and in need of a victory.
The Hawks, solidly in fourth place in the West, denied the Ducks valuable points with a 3-2 overtime triumph before a crowd of 21,619 at the United Center. Martin Havlat turned a spectacular individual effort into the game-winning goal 1 minute 40 seconds into overtime to give the Hawks their second straight victory.
Havlat picked up a loose puck in his own zone, skated the length of the ice with Anaheim's Corey Perry dogging him and, after getting a stride ahead, beat Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere for the winner.
"I saw the puck was coming out of the zone and I saw somebody next to me," said Havlat, who scored his 21st of the season. "I think [Perry] was more tired than I was and I just tried to beat him one-on-one.
"It's not going to get any easier the rest of the regular season. There are a lot of teams fighting for the playoffs. You have to learn how to win the one-goal games because that's the way it is in the playoffs."
The Hawks also got goals from Troy Brouwer and Andrew Ladd, while goaltender Cristobal Huet earned the victory.
For the eighth time in their last nine games, the Hawks opened the scoring. Brouwer kicked things off just more than a minute into the game.
Giguere made the stop on a Matt Walker slap shot from just inside the blue line and Jonathan Toews got a stick on the rebound before it came to Brouwer, who back-handed it in.
A pretty passing play between Havlat, Dave Bolland and Ladd resulted in Ladd giving the Hawks a 2-0 lead. After Duncan Keith broke up an Anaheim rush, the defenseman got the puck to Havlat who did a give-and-go with Bolland before Havlat eventually fed Ladd in front. The assist extended Havlat's points streak to nine games, Bolland's to four and Ladd's to three.
Anaheim got second-period goals from Perry and Bobby Ryan.
"It's a very important win for us, especially after the first period we were up 2-0 and then we stopped playing a bit," Havlat said. "At the end it could go both ways and we're happy we got the extra point in the overtime."
Huet, making the start after sitting out the Hawks' 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday with rookie Antti Niemi in net, made 26 saves to improve to 18-12-3. The Hawks took the season series from the Ducks 3-1.
"They had their turn and we had our turn and we did some good things," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's nice to win in overtime. Nice play by Marty at the end.
"Every game is going to be tight. You're playing to win. The scoring is going to be a little low, but some nights you get a little higher scoring games. The checking is going to be at a premium, but [Tuesday] was more wide open than we've seen."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun