By Chris Kuc
October 15, 2009
The Blackhawks winger's advice served as a greeting for his former teammate, who was back for the first time since he left for Edmonton as a free agent over the summer. The rest of the Hawks then welcomed their former goaltender back by handing him and the Oilers a 4-3 defeat before a crowd of 20,124.
Patrick Sharp had a goal and assist, Kris Versteeg, Jack Skille and Cam Barker scored goals and Antti Niemi was solid in net as the Hawks improved to 4-1-1 on the season. Brian Campbell and Jonathan Toews each added two assists.
Khabibulin was sharp, making 34 saves -- including a Sharp penalty shot and a Versteeg breakaway -- but suffered the loss.
"I thought we had a really strong game across the board," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "All the lines were contributing. We had a lot of puck possession, our defense had a lot of good gaps and they were active off the cycles and off the points. Khabibulin was solid in net for them and gave them a chance."
Sharp got the Hawks off to a quick start with his team-leading fifth goal of the season in the opening minute of the game. Andrew Ladd controlled the puck in the Oilers zone, passed to Toews and the Hawks captain sent a backhand pass to Sharp who beat Khabibulin to make it 1-0.
"We addressed our starts a little bit (Wednesday night)," Sharp said. "I think we're getting better in a lot of areas."
After Edmonton answered on goal by Andrew Cogliano, the Hawks regained the lead on Skille's score. The winger banged a rebound of a long Niklas Hjalmarsson shot past Khabibulin.
Versteeg's goal midway through the second gave the Hawks a two-goal cushion. Campbell brought the puck in deep and found the winger in the slot with a pass and Versteeg tapped the puck through Khabibulin's legs.
Khabibulin exacted a measure of revenge against Sharp when he stopped the winger on a penalty shot later in the period. Sharp was dragged down by Jason Strudwick as he rushed toward the net to be awarded the shot. Khabibulin then got a piece of the attempt with his right blocker to deny the goal.
"I couldn't help but have a smile on the penalty shot," Sharp said.
"I don't know if I had any moves that he hadn't seen already in the last four years. He's a good goalie and we're happy to get the two points."
Versteeg also was denied by Khabibulin on a short-handed breakaway early in the third.
After Edmonton's Dustin Penner cut the Oilers' deficit to 3-2, Barker got the game-winner with a power-play goal.
His point from the slot soared past Khabibulin with Sharp providing traffic.
The Oilers' Denis Grebeshkov scored late to close out the scoring.
"They're a contender," Khabibulin said. "They have a lot of depth. All three lines can score goals like last year.
"They still should challenge for the top of the conference."
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