Havlat scored twice in the final three minutes, then scored the winning goal in the shootout as Chicago rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Calgary Flames 3-2. “We knew that until the 60th minute, it’s not over,” Havlat said. “Nobody was quitting until the last second and that’s why we got the two points tonight.”
Havlat has missed 22 games this year due to injury, including 19 as a result of a sprained ankle suffered seven games into the season. With Havlat in the lineup, the Blackhawks are a .500 hockey club at 14-14-3 and average three goals per game.
But without Havlat – acquired by Chicago last July in a trade with Ottawa – the Blackhawks are just 6-12-4 and average a paltry 1.8 goals per game.
“After I got traded here, I knew it was going to be a building process here,” he said. “It’s going to take some time.
“We have a young team, not that experienced, but we’re getting better and better.”
Havlat’s late-game heroics spoiled what looked destined to be a shutout for Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and a fitting result on a night that the Flames retired the No. 30 of former netminder Mike Vernon.
Instead, Kiprusoff saw his shootout record drop to a surprising 1-10, including 0-3 this season.
The Flames led 2-0 when they received three straight minor penalties setting up the Havlat’s two power-play goals.
On a two-man advantage, Havlat’s long shot from the point beat Kiprusoff at 17:17 to make it 2-1. With goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin pulled for an extra skater, the Blackhawks tied it with 28 seconds left when Havlat fired home a rebound.
The shootout lasted just four shooters with Kristian Huselius and Alex Tanguay missing for Calgary and Havlat and Jeff Hamilton scoring for Chicago.
“We put ourselves in a position to win,” said Calgary’s Jeff Friesen, who had one of his team’s goals. “We’ve got to take it upon ourselves to take responsibility for giving away a point.”
Kristian Huselius also scored for Calgary (29-17-7), which has earned at least one point in eight straight games (5-0-3) to remain atop the Northwest Division. However, that lead was reduced to just one point over Vancouver, which beat Edmonton 5-2 on Tuesday.
The Blackhawks (20-26-7) improved to 2-1 on their season-high seven game road trip.
Chicago defenceman Jassen Cullimore has played with many great players during his NHL career and ranks Havlat among them.
“I’ve had the luxury of playing with some good offensive players in my time, Alex Mogilny in his prime, Pavel Bure, Saku Koivu in Montreal, and then we had Lecavalier and St. Louis in Tampa when I was there,” Cullimore said. “It’s nice to have a guy that you can give him the puck and you never know when he’s going to explode and make a move on a guy.
“You look at today for example, that shot on the second goal, he can pick corners. With other guys it’s just try and hit the net.”
Friesen opened the scoring at 15:57 of the second. Taking a pass from Marcus Nilson behind the net, he fired a shot into the top corner over Khabibulin’s glove.
After registering just one goal and three assists in the first 41 games, Friesen has matched that output in the last four games by putting together a modest four-game point streak.
Calgary made it 2-0 at 4:08 of the third on the power play when Huselius came off the side boards and fired a shot from the top of the faceoff circle through a crowd and past Khabibulin.
“We weren’t really focused in the third to finish it off, that’s a lesson for sure,” said Huselius. “Now we have to refocus and go on the road again.”
Huselius now has a 13-game (nine goals, 10 assists) point streak, tying him with Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin for the longest streak of the season.
Notes: The one shot for Chicago in the first period tied a franchise record for fewest shots in a period, previously done six times . . . Calgary has twice in its history surrendered no shots in a period . . . Chicago RW Peter Bondra was a healthy scratch.