Havlat and Bryan Smolinski each had a goal and an assist to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night. Havlat has three goals and two assists in two games after being out for seven weeks and missing 19 games with a sprained right ankle. Before being injured on Oct. 20 at Dallas, the right wing had seven goals and six assists in seven games to lead the NHL in scoring.
“It was fine, just a couple of tweaks, but nothing major,” Havlat said of the ankle. “The points are just a plus and I’m happy that we won tonight and that we came back last night (a 5-4 overtime loss at Minnesota).
“I was tired at the end, but it was a lot with back-to-back games.”
Havlat’s breakaway goal at 4:23 of the third period gave Chicago a 3-1 lead and some breathing room against the Oilers. After skating down the slot, he threaded a backhander between Dwayne Roloson’s left shoulder and the crossbar.
“He’s in game shape,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “He’s a great player and we all know that. Those are goals that only an exceptional player can score.”
Tuomo Ruutu and Denis Arkhipov added goals for Chicago, which remained unbeaten in regulation in seven games (4-0-3) since Savard replaced Trent Yawney as coach on Nov. 27. The Blackhawks, however, hadn’t won in their last three games, falling twice in shootouts and once in overtime.
Chicago’s Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 18 shots, including several close-in chances. He credited Havlat with energizing the Blackhawks’ offence, even if Chicago’s power play is just 1-for-49 through its last 11 games.
“I think the whole team with him coming back feels more confident, feels we can score goals,” Khabibulin said. “Obviously he’s a big part of it.”
Jarret Stoll converted a second-period penalty shot for the Oilers, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Roloson blocked 23 shots.
Edmonton’s league-leading penalty killing kept the game close. The Oilers held off all 10 Chicago power plays – including three 5-on-3 advantages – and stretched their consecutive penalty kills to 23 over four games.
But playing short-handed stifled the Oilers’ attack, Stoll said.
“It kills the guys who are out there penalty killing every second shift,” Stoll said. “Penalty killing is hard work. It takes its toll on you when you have five in the first. It wasn’t a good start for us.”
Ruutu opened the scoring 8:26 into the game from just in front of the crease. Lasse Kukkonen’s shot from the right point hit Ruutu in the stomach, then dropped to the ice. Ruutu turned and fired the loose puck past Roloson.
Smolinksi made it 2-0 with 6:49 left in the opening period. With Roloson down, he fired into a wide-open net after taking a short feed across the slot from Havlat.
Stoll’s penalty-shot goal came at 4:34 of the second period. He fired a wrist shot between Khabibulin’s pads. Stoll was awarded the attempt after being pulled down by Jassen Cullimore.
“I didn’t want to deke or be fancy,” Stoll said. “I just tried to get a quick shot and find a hole.”
Stoll hit the post twice during an Edmonton power play midway through the second. Khabibilin made a point-blank glove save on Toby Petersen with just over 6 minutes left in the period.
Havlat’s breakaway goal at 4:23 the third made it 3-1. Arkhipov then scored into an empty net with 4.1 seconds left.
Notes: The Blackhawks signed F Peter Bondra, 38, to a one-year contract on Sunday. Bondra, who was not playing this season, has 498 goals and 380 assists on 1,044 NHL games. Originally he was expected to debut with the Blackhawks Thursday when they host Detroit, but after the game Savard said Bondra might play Tuesday at St. Louis. Bondra played with Atlanta last season. … Chicago RW Radim Vrbata is day-to-day with an injured left wrist. D Adrian Aucoin missed his eighth game with a pulled groin. … Edmonton RW Ales Hemsky sat out his sixth game with a right shoulder injury and is day-to-day. C Ryan Smyth missed his fourth game with a fractured right thumb.