ATLANTA (Ticker) — Nikolai Khabibulin certainly enjoys playing
the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Russian turned aside 36 shots and captain Jonathan Toews
scored a power-play goal to snap a tie late in the second period
as the Chicago Blackhawks recorded a 3-1 triumph over the
Thrashers on Wednesday.
Patrick Sharp also tallied with the man advantage and Dave
Bolland added a shorthanded empty-net goal for Chicago, which
improved to 5-2-0 on its eight-game road trip.
Defenseman Cam Barker notched a pair of assists as Khabibulin
posted his sixth win in his last nine meetings with the
All-Star Ilya Kovalchuk scored his team-leading 24th goal and
Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves for Atlanta, which fell to 2-7-0 in
its last nine contests.
With his team on the power play, Sharp opened the scoring with
5:54 remaining in the second period.
All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell gained control of the puck
along the left wing boards before feeding Sharp in the near
faceoff circle. Sharp settled the puck before wristing it past
Lehtonen for his 23rd goal of the season.
Kovalchuk leveled the contest with 1:55 remaining in the
session, unleashing a shot past Khabibulin for a power-play
tally. It was the captain’s seventh goal in his last six games.
Toews responded just 21 seconds later, when he gathered a
rebound and tucked it past Lehtonen for his 17th tally.
Kovalchuk nearly tied the game again, but his sharp-angle blast
– which beat Khabibulin – came just a moment after time expired
in the session.
Just 62 seconds into the third, the Thrashers crashed the net
after Vyacheslav Kozlov attempted to stuff the puck past
Khabibulin. Although the puck eventually crossed the line,
officials ruled that the whistle had blown to stop play.
Atlanta recorded 16 shots in the third period but could not