Khabibulin stopped a season-high 56 shots through overtime, then three of four Detroit shooters in the shootout, to help the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings 3-2 Thursday night.
Chicago won its fourth straight and snapped a seven-game losing streak against Detroit that dated to March 2006.
According to Blackhawks team officials, Khabibulin lost between 12 and 15 pounds during the contest.
“Habby played, like, two games tonight,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “Habby was a one-man show. He was terrific. That’s why we got him.”
After Chicago blew a 2-0 lead in regulation, Patrick Sharp and Jason Williams scored in the shootout to lift the Blackhawks.
“We’ve lost the lead to them before, to it was a nice team effort tonight to hold on and force it to overtime for the win,” Sharp said. “But for the most part we relied on Nikolai in net to hang in there.
“That’s what Detroit does to you. They’ve got some pretty talented players over there.”
By earning a point for reaching overtime, the Red Wings clinched their sixth straight Central Division title. Detroit needs one more point to secure its third consecutive Western Conference title.
Nikita Alexeev and Bryan Bickell – making his NHL debut – scored in regulation for Chicago.
Kyle Calder was credited with a power-play goal for Detroit at 9:36 of the third to tie it 2-2 and set up overtime. However, it appeared that Robert Lang also might have jammed the loose puck past Khabibulin.
Tomas Holmstrom also scored in regulation for Detroit, which came back from a 2-0 deficit. Pavel Datsyuk scored in the shootout for Detroit, which got 19 saves from Chris Osgood.
“Khabibulin played the best he’s ever played against us, but we managed to get a point out of it,” Osgood said. “It would have been nice to win, but we’re happy we clinched the division.”
Added Detroit coach Mike Babcock: “We had every opportunity in the world. Their goalie earned his US$7 million, or whatever he makes.”
Khabibulin, the Blackhawks’ highest-paid player, is finishing the second year of a four-year, $27 million contract.
Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi suffered a sprained neck in the first period and didn’t return.
The game was the opener of a home-and-home series between the two teams. The Red Wings host Chicago in their season finale Saturday afternoon. The Blackhawks close their season at Dallas on Sunday.
Alexeev opened the scoring 5:03 into the first. After taking a cross-ice pass from Denis Arkhipov, he beat Osgood high on the stick side with a shot from the left circle.
Bickell made it 2-0 with a deflection from the edge of the crease at 3:04 of the second. As he was pulled to the ice by Detroit’s Chris Chelios, Bickell redirected Jonas Nordqvist’s shot from right wing.
Both Bickell and Nordqvist were recalled from the Norfolk of the AHL earlier in the day.
Holmstrom cut it to 2-1 with 40 seconds left in the second period. Left uncovered just off the right edge of the crease, Holmstrom banged a rebound of Johan Franzen’s shot between Khabibulin’s pads.
Calder was credited with jamming a loose puck under Khabibulin’s pads at 9:36 of the third for a power-play goal that tied it 2-all following a video review.
Detroit outshot Chicago 5-2 in the scoreless overtime.
Notes: Detroit D Nicklas Lidstrom sat out with a sore back. … Red Wings D Niklas Kronwall missed his third game with a fractured sacrum and is out for the season. … Detroit LW Henrik Zetterberg missed his 18th game with a lower back injury, but has resumed skating. … Chicago LW and leading scorer Martin Havlat is out for the season after suffering a shoulder injury Tuesday in Nashville. … Blackhawks C Mikael Holmqvist also is out for the season with a shoulder injury suffered in Nashville. … Chicago D Adrian Aucoin missed Thursday’s game with a pulled groin.