In the grand plan of the Blackhawks, it's safe to say Igor Korolev and Steve Passmore do not have prominent roles.
The Hawks are building for the future and Korolev (33 years old) and Passmore (soon 31) are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning.
But both of themwho each began the season in Norfolk of the American Leagueplayed key roles in the Hawks' 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday at the United Center.
Korolev scored his first goal of the seasonand his first goal in 44 games dating to Dec. 8, 2002for the game-winner, and Passmore earned his first victory since March 27 as the Hawks won for just the fourth time in 26 games.
It wasn't that long ago when both wondered if they ever would get back to the NHL.
"What kept me going?" Korolev said. "It's close to retirement, so you try to be your best and try to do as much as possible."
For the second straight game, Korolev played on a line with Alex Zhamnov and Steve Sullivan. The game-winner came because Korolev was in the right place at the right time at the 12 minute 47 second mark of the third period.
Sullivan started the play with a shot that hit the side of the goal. He grabbed his own rebound, circled the net and was able to shovel a pass to Korolev after falling to the ice.
After a scoreless 40 minutes, the Hawks got on the board with a Brett McLean goal at 2:15 of the third period. Alexander Korolyuk tied the game with a rocket shot from just inside the blue line at 6:53.
It looked as if Korolyuk would tie the game again shortly after Korolev's goal. He took a pass and broke clear into the slot and had Passmore down and out before beating him with a shot up high.
But the play was reviewed and the goal waved off after it was determined the net came off its moorings. While sliding to get into position, Passmore had knocked the net up off its supports as the puck went past him.
"He made a really nice move," Passmore said. "I just tried to get a leg there and I guess I must have put the net up a bit."
Passmore had no idea why the play was being reviewed.
"I thought they were reviewing to see what a nice move he made," Passmore said. "I had no clue what they were reviewing. I was flat on my stomach, I didn't know the net was off."
Friday was Passmore's fourth game since being recalled. He has allowed just one goal in three of them, losing the first two 1-0. After a miserable season last year, it looked as if he wouldn't play another game with the Hawks, and were it not for Jocelyn Thibault's injury, Passmore likely still would be in Norfolk.
"You never know what's going to happen, it's a funny game," Passmore said. "If you go down there with a bad attitude, you won't be back. I'm happy to be back and chip in if I can."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun