Versteeg, Toews help Blackhawks rally past Ducks

CHICAGO (Ticker) — The Chicago Blackhawks appeared on their way
to another loss in their return home. But the playmaking skills
of rookie Kris Versteeg helped turn an apparent setback into a
thrilling victory.

Versteeg set up Martin Havlat’s tying goal with less than six
minutes remaining in the third period and fed captain Jonathan
Toews for the winner with 95 seconds to go as the Blackhawks
rallied for a 4-2 triumph over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland also scored and Toews added an
assist for the Blackhawks, who returned to the United Center
after a 3-2-1 road trip that included a 1-0 loss to the Ducks.

“Getting a win like this was huge for us,” Versteeg said.
“After the way we finished the road trip and had those OT
losses, and we didn’t even score against Anaheim there.”

“It’s nice to win a close game,” Toews added. “We haven’t won
many games (in which we were) down in the third. But we didn’t
give up tonight. We knew if we kept working hard, we could win
this game.”

Cristobal Huet made 30 saves for Chicago, which had lost three
straight overall (0-2-1) and three in a row at home (0-1-2).

“I felt good,” said Huet, who was making his third straight
start. “I was just trying to help the team any way I could and
was able to come up big when it was needed.”

Teemu Selanne and defenseman Chris Pronger tallied for Anaheim,
which fell to 7-2-1 in its last 10 road games.

“To a man, we’re very disappointed how we finished this game,”
Pronger said. “We’re a veteran group that has been through this
many times, and for the game to end the way it did does not sit

On a night when the Blackhawks paid tribute to former legend
Steve Larmer, Versteeg demonstrated the skills that one day
could earn him a special night of his own. Entering as the
NHL’s leading scorer among rookies with 22 points in 23 games,
the 22-year-old native of Lethbridge, Alberta added to his total
by assisting on goals 4:10 apart late in the third period.

“The guy who should get a lot of the credit was Steeger, who
made two great plays,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
“Those were highlight-reel plays. He’s played with some good
players, but he’s certainly earned more opportunities to play
with those guys.”

Acquired from the Boston Bruins in February 2007, Versteeg
notched the secondary assist on the tally by Havlat. Skating
down the left wing, the 2004 fifth-round draft pick went around
Anaheim defenseman Steve Montador before dishing the puck to
blue-liner Duncan Keith, who had joined the rush.

Keith quickly made a cross-slot pass from the left faceoff
circle to Havlat, whose snap shot beat goaltender Jonas Hiller
at 14:15 of the third to tie the game at 2-2.

With time winding down in regulation, Versteeg pounced on a
loose puck at the left side of the crease and backhanded it into
the slot to Toews, who buried it for his fifth goal of the
season and a 3-2 edge.

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“I saw JT at the last minute out of the corner of my eye,”
Versteeg said. “So I tried to get the puck to him and he made a
nice play.”

“They got a bit of a lucky bounce there and were able to get it
where (Toews) could go back door,” Hiller said. “I didn’t
expect that. Not sure (Toews) did either.”

Quenneville could not credit Versteeg enough for his

“Martin Havlat scored a timely goal for us, and Jonathan Toews’
goal was a big goal, but Kris Versteeg was so big setting up
both of them,” Quenneville said.

Toews was so animated in his celebration after scoring, he
received some razzing from teammates afterward.

“The guys gave it to me on the bench for how I celebrated,” he
said. “I don’t normally celebrate that way, but it was so good
to get a goal like that.”

Bolland sealed the victory with nine seconds remaining with an

“We’re not happy with the way we finished the game, myself
included after getting three penalties,” said Anaheim’s Ryan
Getzlaf, who recorded an assist. “That can’t happen.”

The Blackhawks, who improved to 7-1-4 at home this season,
opened the scoring with 93 seconds to go in the first session.
From along the right wing boards, 2008 Calder Trophy winner
Patrick Kane made a pass to Sharp, who beat Hiller high to the
glove side from alone at the left hash marks during a power play
for his 14th of the campaign.

The goal ended the Ducks’ streak of five consecutive games
without having allowed a man-advantage tally.

Anaheim cashed in on a power play of its own midway through the
second period to knot the contest.

Skating below the end line on the left side of the net, captain
Scott Niedermayer passed the puck to Selanne, who beat Huet from
the doorstep at 9:24 for his league-leading 13th power-play goal
– and 14th overall this season.

The tally also was the 566th of Selanne’s career, moving the
“Finnish Flash” within seven of tying Hall of Famer Mike Bossy
for 18th place on the all-time list.

Anaheim grabbed a 2-1 lead just 48 seconds into the third, when
Pronger unleashed a wrist shot from the right point that got
past Huet, who was screened by Rob Niedermayer. The goal was
the 2,997th in franchise history.

Hiller turned aside 37 shots for the Ducks, who lost for just
the third time in their last 11 visits to the United Center.
The Swiss goalie entered with a 5-0-0 record, two shutouts and a
.957 save percentage in his previous six starts.

“Chicago knew they had to come out tonight,” Hiller said. “I
heard they had a bad road trip and needed to show something. We
had a lead in the third period and didn’t hold it. that
shouldn’t happen to us.”