CHICAGO – Martin Havlat is looking more and more like an elite NHL player again.
Havlat scored 1:40 into overtime to cap an impressive individual effort and give the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. Havlat broke down the middle from centre-ice and, despite being pulled down from behind by Anaheim’s Corey Perry, he managed to loft a shot past Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
“I got the puck coming out (of the Blackhawks zone),” Havlat said. “I think the guy (Perry) was more tired than I was, but I beat him 1-on-1.”
Perry gave Havlat credit.
“I was trying to get my stick around him,” Perry said. “It was one of those plays where he maybe did a great job of blocking me out.
“It was one of those goals where you just have to tip your hat to the other player.”
With a goal and assist on Tuesday, Havlat took over the Blackhawks’ scoring lead with 57 points. He has a nine-game points streak, with four goals and 11 assists in the span.
Injuries often have hampered Havlat, now in his eighth NHL season.
After the Blackhawks acquired the right wing from Ottawa in July 2006, a shoulder problem limited him to 56, then just 35 games in his first two years in Chicago.
This season, however, Havlat has played in all of the resurgent Blackhawks’ 62 games.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Chicago defenceman Duncan Keith said. “He’s been a big part of our offense. I love playing with him out there. He’s made everybody around him better.
Chicago’s Troy Brouwer and Andrew Ladd scored in the first period to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead.
Anaheim’s Drew Miller and Bobby Ryan scored early in the second to tie it 2-2. Ryan leads NHL rookies with 22 goals.
Giguere made 34 saves in his sixth straight start as the Ducks completed a season-high six-game road trip at 3-2-1.
“They had their turn, we had our turn,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We did some good things. It’s nice to win in overtime.”
The Ducks weren’t disappointed with battling back for a point to move into a three-way tie with Nashville and Edmonton for seventh in the Western Conference with 68 points.
The Predators, however, have played 64 games, one fewer than the Ducks. The Oilers have played 63.
“I thought after we got down 2-0 we settled down, got the puck in deep and created something in the second,” Giguere said. “A disappointing ending, but overall a pretty good effort on our part.
“For us it’s positive road trip,” he added. “If we were going to have a bad road trip, I think that would have sealed our season. Now we’re in the thick of it (the playoff race) with a bunch of other teams.”
Chicago’s Cristobal Huet made his ninth start in 10 games and stopped 26 shots. Huet normally alternates with Nikolai Khabibulin, who remains on injured reserve after aggravating a groin injury in a 3-1 win at Atlanta on Feb. 11.
Brouwer opened the scoring 1:03 in following a faceoff in the Anaheim zone. Giguere stopped Matt Walker’s drive from the point, and the rebound popped out to Jonathan Toews, then rolled off his stick and across the goalmouth to Brouwer.
Ladd made it 2-0 at 11:26 of the first to cap a 3-on-1 Chicago rush against Anaheim defenceman Steve Montador following a Ducks turnover at centre-ice.
Ladd tapped in Havlat’s cross-crease feed to complete a pinpoint passing play started by Dave Bolland.
Miller cut it to 2-1 at 2:14 of the second period.
Huet tried to play the puck behind the net, but lost it to Corey Perry who centred it to Miller before Huet could recover.
The goal was Miller’s first since Nov. 7, 2007. He was recalled from Iowa of the AHL on Feb. 27 and played just 15 games with the Ducks this season.
Ryan scored from the right side of the net at 4:27. Moments earlier, Chicago defenceman James Wisniewski knocked Huet’s stick out of his hand as Wisniewski covered Andrew Ebbett in front of the net.