ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Chicago Blackhawks want to get back to playing the way they were in December, when they were one of the NHL’s best teams.
A solid 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night, keyed by Nikolai Khabibulin’s 36 saves, may get them heading in the right direction. Chicago went 10-1-1 last month, then were just 5-5-1 in January. They had lost two in a row before the all-star break.
“We enjoyed ourselves and relaxed over the break,” said all-star Jonathan Toews, whose second-period goal was the difference in the win over Anaheim. “Now there is a responsibility to come back and perform.
“We were excited to play and come back and redeem ourselves.”
The win was the Blackhawks’ second in 10 games in Anaheim, and their first since a shootout victory on Nov. 17, 2006.
Toews scored early in the second, after fellow all-star Patrick Kane and Adam Burish had given Chicago a 2-1 lead in the first.
“I think you could see tonight all of our lines were pretty much going,” Kane said. “It’s nice to get a win here. Anaheim is a tough team. It’s huge to get a win against that team to start the road trip.”
The contest was the first of an eight-game swing for the Blackhawks.
Khabibulin made several outstanding saves, including one in the waning seconds when he gloved the puck as the Ducks’ Samuel Pahlsson, right in front of him, was furiously trying to poke it past him.
“Khabibulin was solid all game,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “He was big and he was quick and took away a lot of their plays down there. He had good rebound control on a lot of their point shots.
“That is a big team down low to maintain. He stood his ground all night and did a great job.”
Bobby Ryan and Travis Moen scored for the Ducks.
“We created a lot of chances for ourselves,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “We probably made a couple of mistakes, too many in critical areas that cost us.”
Moen narrowed the gap to 3-2 with a short-handed goal at 18:50 of the second. Breaking down the left side, Moen deked a defender and beat Khabibulin with a slap shot high to the glove side for his fourth goal.
“We just needed a few more bounces,” Moen said. “I thought we worked extremely hard. We just didn’t quite get the win.”
Chicago opened a 3-1 lead on Toews’ 14th goal, finishing off a fine passing sequence at 3:13 of the period. Patrick Sharp made a cross-ice pass from the right boards to Duncan Keith, who flicked the puck to Toews as he was breaking down the slot.
Kane gave the Blackhawks the lead back on a power play after Ryan’s goal had lifted the Ducks into a 1-1 tie. Kane got his 17th with a wraparound at 16:41 of the first period.
Ryan redirected Chris Pronger’s long slap shot on a power play past goalie Jonas Hiller for his 17th goal, 11th of the month. It also extended his goal streak to five games, an Anaheim rookie record.
Burish scored for Chicago 3:07 in, pushing the puck past Hiller during a scramble in front of the net. The goal was his third.
Hiller made 24 saves.
Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne returned after missing 17 games due to a lacerated left quadriceps. The game was his 616th for the Ducks, tying Steve Rucchin’s team record set from 1994-2004.
Notes: The eight-game, 17-day trip for the Blackhawks is one of their longest. Their most consecutive games on the road in their 82-year history was a nine-game trek in 1955-56. They were on the road for eight consecutive games in two other seasons. … When Selanne was injured in a game at Edmonton on Dec. 19, he was leading the NHL with 13 power-play goals. Despite his long absence. Selanne was still tied for the league lead with Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek. … Chicago D Keith returned after missing four games with concussion-like symptoms, but F Kris Versteeg was still out with a finger injury.