Blackhawks Hold Off Blue Jackets

Monday, February 12th 2007, 6:26 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ The Chicago Blackhawks are no longer satisfied with just winning. They want to play well while doing it.

Martin Havlat had a goal and two assists and the Blackhawks scored three times in the opening period of a 5-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

``It's a young team,'' Chicago coach Denis Savard said. ``We made a few mistakes. The good thing about this is we can fix it.''

Peter Bondra and Bryan Smolinski each had a goal and an assist and Patrick Sharp and Martin Lapointe also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won five of their last seven games.

A few Blue Jackets fans chanted ``We want a refund!'' in the third period _ before their team came back with two goals to almost force overtime.

Anson Carter, Ron Hainsey and David Vyborny each had a goal and an assist and Alexander Svitov also scored for Columbus, which dropped behind the Blackhawks into last place in the Central Division. Brian Berard and Rick Nash each added two assists.

Down 5-2 with less than 11 minutes left, the Blue Jackets drew within one on Vyborny's rebound goal with 3:58 remaining. They almost tied it with just under 2 minutes left when goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin stopped Vyborny's shot from the high slot.

``Khabibulin played fantastic and he saved us at the end,'' Smolinski said.

But Khabibulin, who had 24 saves, wasn't thrilled with how the game unfolded.

``I'd like to be positive, but we don't seem to learn from previous games,'' he said. ``As soon as we relax a little bit _ we get too relaxed _ they jump right on us. We can't seem to have an easy game.''

Elsewhere Sunday, it was: Edmonton 5, Atlanta 1; Detroit 7, Calgary 4; Dallas 7, Colorado 5; and Tampa Bay 4, New Jersey 1.

Before a national television audience _ a first for the 6-year-old Columbus franchise _ the Blackhawks dominated at the outset.

Outshooting the Blue Jackets 15-3 in the opening period, they scored three times in a span of 3:38.

``We had players who gave great effort today, and we had players who gave us nothing _ as a matter of fact, took away from the team,'' Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``We have to deal with those individuals in a direct manner.''

Sharp scored on a rebound, with Smolinski adding a goal just over a minute later off an assist by Tuomo Ruutu. The Blackhawks, who have outscored Columbus 12-4 in the first period of their six meetings this year, made it 3-0 on their next shot.

Havlat skated past defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who hooked his right arm as he went past, and swooped in alone on goaltender Fredrik Norrena. Havlat skated to an abrupt stop and then reached back to flick the puck past the goalie.

``I feel I'm playing the best hockey I've ever played, for sure,'' said Havlat, acquired along with Bryan Smolinski from Ottawa in a blockbuster deal last summer. ``That's my goal every year, to be better than the season before.''

Havlat has seven goals and three assists in a six-game goal streak.

The Blue Jackets cut the gap to 4-2 through two periods with power-play goals by Hainsey and Carter sandwiched around Lapointe's goal.

In the final period, Bondra scored off a rebound of Havlat's shot from the high slot, with Svitov answering with a wrist shot. Vyborny closed the scoring by going high over Khabibulin's shoulder to set up the wild finish.

Oilers 5, Thrashers 1

Petr Sykora set up three goals. Ryan Smyth, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Marc Pouliot, Joffrey Lupul and Raffi Torres scored for host Edmonton, which has won five of the last seven games to move within six points of both the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and the top spot in the Northwest Division.

Atlanta (30-20-9) has lost two in a row and five of its last six.

Red Wings 7, Flames 4

At Detroit, Henrik Zetterberg had two goals and two assists, Joey MacDonald got his first career win in goal, and the Red Wings outshot the Flames 50-20.

Detroit also got a goal and an assist each from Tomas Holmstrom, Mathieu Schneider, and Jason Williams.

Roman Hamrlik had a goal and an assist for Calgary. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 11 of 14 shots before being replaced by Jamie McLennan. Detroit chased Kiprusoff with three first-period goals.

Stars 7, Avalanche 5

Philippe Boucher and Jere Lethinen each had a goal and an assist as host Dallas set a season high for goals.

Jeff Halpern scored on a rebound with 2:28 left for the Stars, who fended off three power plays with some nice saves by Mike Smith in the final 12 minutes to win their third straight game.

All-Star goalie Marty Turco was pulled from his second straight start, yanked after giving up two goals in less than a minute midway through the second period. Colorado's Peter Budaj had been replaced earlier in the period after Dallas went ahead 4-1.

Lightning 4, Devils 1

Nick Tarnasky and Vincent Lecavalier scored in a 48-second span to cap a three-goal second period for the visiting Lightning. Vaclav Prospal and Dan Boyle also scored and Johan Holmqvist had 21 saves in bouncing back from a bad game against the Rangers to lead Tampa Bay to its 12th win in 15 games.

Scott Gomez scored for the Devils, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. The loss was only their third in regulation in the last 21 games (15-3-3).