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After providing a boost for the Chicago Blackhawks in his return to the lineup, Martin Havlat makes his return to the United Center on Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers, hoping this time his team can record a win.
The left wing - acquired from Ottawa in the offseason - led Chicago to a surprising 4-2-0 start to the season, recording at least one point in each of his first six games as a Blackhawk. However, Havlat sprained his ankle at Dallas on Oct. 20, and missed 19 games due to the injury.
The Blackhawks (10-12-5) went 6-9-4 in his absence.
Havlat made an impressive return at Minnesota Saturday, scoring Chicago's first two goals while adding an assist in a 5-4 overtime loss.
"The legs weren't there, but it was better than I thought it was going to be," said Havlat, who leads Chicago with nine goals even after all his time missed.
The Blackhawks trailed 4-2 late in the third period, but center Jeff Hamilton and defenseman Brent Seabrook scored within 25 seconds of each other to tie the game. The Wild's Mark Parrish scored the game-winner with 1:42 left in overtime.
It was the third consecutive overtime game for Chicago, which lost its previous two games in shootouts.
"I am proud of our guys," said coach Denis Savard, who is 3-0-3 since taking over the Blackhawks on Nov. 27. "They battled back, and we just kept plugging away, kept plugging away."
The Blackhawks hope to have goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin back Sunday after he missed Saturday's game because of flulike symptoms.
Brian Boucher started in his place and finished with 33 saves in his first start in six games.
Khabibulin is 8-4-2 with a 2.63 goals-against average this season with four of the wins coming at the United Center, where he has an impressive 2.13 GAA.
Edmonton (16-10-2) is trying to cope with the loss of two top offensive players. Ryan Smyth, who leads the Oilers with 19 goals, is out indefinitely with a broken thumb suffered last Saturday. Ales Hemsky, with 14 assists and 18 points this season, has not played since Nov. 28 due to a right shoulder injury.
The Oilers have used goaltending and defense to stay afloat. Edmonton has allowed just one goal in its last three games, including a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Friday. Dwayne Roloson stopped 22 shots for his second consecutive shutout.
"He was unreal," Oilers defenseman Matt Greene said. "He's been doing that all year for us. He makes every save he should."
Roloson is 8-3 with two ties and a 2.36 GAA in 14 career games versus the Blackhawks. He made 27 saves in Edmonton's 5-1 win over Chicago on Nov. 24. Boucher started for the Blackhawks, but was removed after giving up three goals in 20 minutes.
|Apr 01 '07||EDM 1 at CHI 2||P. Sharp|
|Feb 09 '07||CHI 1 at EDM 2||S. Horcoff|
|Dec 10 '06||EDM 1 at CHI 4||B. Smolinski|
|Nov 24 '06||CHI 1 at EDM 5||M. Reasoner|