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Blackhawks halt long drought vs. Hurricanes

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Rookie Kris Versteeg scored the decisive

goal in the fourth round of the shootout as the Chicago

Blackhawks ended a long winless drought against the Carolina

Hurricanes with a 3-2 triumph on Wednesday.

Versteeg and Troy Brouwer tallied in regulation and Cristobal

Huet made 29 saves for the Blackhawks, who topped the Hurricanes

for the first time since April 3, 1999. Chicago went 0-6-1 with

one tie in its previous eight meetings with Carolina.

"Both teams played hard and played well," Blackhawks coach Joel

Quenneville said. "It was an intense game, so I'm pleased with

how we fought our way back in it."

Captain Rod Brind'Amour and Tuomo Ruutu netted goals for the

Hurricanes, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.

Both players extended their goal-scoring streaks to three


"We didn't play very well, but a point is better than nothing,"

Brind'Amour said. "We won't win many games playing like this,

so we were lucky to get a point out of it."

The Blackhawks, who have not lost three straight in regulation

this season, were just 27 seconds away from denying the

Hurricanes of a point. But with goaltender Cam Ward pulled for

an extra attacker during a late power play, Ruutu received a

pass from below the left faceoff circle by Ray Whitney and beat

Huet from the slot to forge a 2-2 tie.

"When you have a man advantage and you also pull the goalie, you

just get the puck on the net," Ruutu said. "We got it to go


Both netminders came up huge in overtime, as Ward stopped 2008

Calder Trophy winner Patrick Kane on a breakaway with 43 seconds

remaining and Huet duplicated the feat against Eric Staal with

four seconds to go.

Neither goalie was able to stop the puck over the first two

rounds of the shootout. Captain Jonathan Toews and Kane scored

for Chicago, while Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen tallied for Carolina.

Dave Bolland put a backhander off the left goalpost on the

Blackhawks' third attempt, and Huet denied Matt Cullen's shot in

the third round. But Versteeg beat Ward high to the glove side

on Chicago's next try, and Huet got his glove on former

Blackhawk Sergei Samsonov's shot to seal the win.

"I just went down there and shot it," Versteeg said. "I didn't

try to think too much. If you overhandle the puck on bad ice,

it can get away or you can fumble it, so I kept it simple and it

worked out."

"I just came out at the end, and I was fortunate that he missed

the net," Huet said. "Their team is good in the shootout, but

our guys made some good shots."

Making his 16th consecutive start, Ward turned aside 39 shots

for Carolina (36-27-6), which moved one point ahead of idle

Florida (34-24-9) for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

"Our goalie played great," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said.

"But we spent too much time in the (penalty) box. They had more

energy. Nothing was good or smooth tonight. It was an ugly

game for us."

Brind'Amour opened the scoring at 5:24 of the first period,

converting a cross-slot pass from Samsonov while alone below the

right circle. But Versteeg beat Ward with a wrist shot from the

left circle during a 2-on-1 rush with 2:52 remaining in the

second to tie it at 1-1.

With the Blackhawks on the power play early in the third, Kane

grabbed a carom off the end boards behind the net and came out

near the right post before getting the puck to Brouwer, who

buried it from the left side at 4:51 for his 10th goal of the

season and a 2-1 advantage.

"We were down, but we've dug ourselves out of holes before,"

Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "So it was key to just

keep getting pucks at the net and keeping things simple."


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