Ruutu scored to tie the game with 9:21 left in regulation and got the only goal in the shootout, leading the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.
Chicago’s Nikolai Khabibulin made 42 saves in his first start since Oct. 21. The four-time all-star missed the previous nine games because of a broken index finger on the hand he wears his blocking pad.
“Nick won the game for us, and that’s what he’s there for,” coach Trent Yawney said. “He’s played very well after a three-week hiatus and faced a lot of shots. That bodes well for him. He had a rusty start, but settled down.”
Patrick Sharp had a goal and an assist, Martin Lapointe also scored and Michael Holmqvist had two assists, helping the Blackhawks overcome a 3-1 deficit and stop a five-game road losing streak. They have recorded at least one point in their last five games overall, following seven consecutive losses in regulation.
“It shows a lot that we were down 3-1 and battled back against a really good team,” Ruutu said.
Scott Niedermayer had three assists for the Ducks, who got power-play goals from Teemu Selanne and Chris Kunitz. Ilya Bryzgalov made 22 saves in his sixth start this season.
“I think we played good enough to win the game, but they got some weird goals,” Selanne said. “The one point is very important, and we’re still playing very well. So that’s really what matters.”
Bryzgalov, competing in a shootout for the first time in his NHL career, was beaten to the stick side by Ruutu with Chicago’s third shot.
“I just tried to keep things simple and shoot hard,” Ruutu said.
Bryzgalov beat the Blackhawks 3-0 on Oct. 28 at Chicago while facing just 14 shots, the fewest ever against a Ducks goaltender in a shutout. The last time he started a game, on Nov. 10 at Calgary, he was benched after giving up two goals on three shots.
Chicago had killed off all but one of 32 short-handed situations over its previous five games, but Anaheim was awarded 10 consecutive power plays during one stretch and converted two of them into second-period goals.
The Blackhawks pulled even on Sharp’s fourth of the season and Ruutu’s second. Sharp scored at 16:57 of the second period on a deflection of Holmqvist’s wrist shot from the slot, and Ruutu made it 3-all with a 40-foot wrist shot through a screen that beat Bryzgalov between the pads.
“I never saw the shot, but it’s still a soft goal. I have to find the puck,” Bryzgalov said.
Early in the first period, referee Dan O’Halloran had his arm raised to call a delayed penalty when the Ducks pulled Bryzgalov in favour of a sixth attacker. Selanne passed the puck out to the left point, and Niedermayer snapped off a one-timer that was tipped in by Francois Beauchemin just 55 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Selanne made it 2-0 at 1:38 of the second, redirecting Niedermayer’s 50-foot wrist shot over Khabibulin’s right shoulder while Tony Salmelainen was serving a hooking penalty.
Chicago cut Anaheim’s lead in half at 8:08 of the second as Lapointe redirected Holmqvist’s shot past Bryzgalov with his left skate.
The Ducks capitalized on a roughing penalty against Khabibulin to increase their margin to 3-1 at 15:21 of the second. Corey Perry crashed into the Blackhawks’ goalie during an offensive rush and knocked the net off its moorings. Khabibulin threw a retaliatory punch at Perry while the Ducks’ forward was lying on the ice. Kunitz scored his 10th goal during the ensuing 5-on-4 advantage.
Notes: Friday was the 80th anniversary of the Blackhawks’ first game, a 4-1 victory over the Toronto St. Pats at the Chicago Coliseum. The team’s last Stanley Cup title was in 1960-61, the longest drought by any of the six teams that made up the league before the 1967 expansion. … Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who surrendered five goals on 11 shots in Anaheim’s 7-4 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday and was benched in the first period, got the night off. … Niedermayer recorded his first three-point game of the season and 10th of his career.