Tuomo Ruutu may have earned a point in the playoff race for his Carolina Hurricanes, but it was Kris Versteeg who came up big at the right moment. His winning goal in the shootout propelled the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes, improving the Windy City team to 37-19-9 on the season while Carolina fell to 36-27-6.
Rod Brind’Amour scored the first goal of the game 5:24 into the first period after taking a pass across the crease from Sergei Samsanov; Patrick Eaves also got credit for an assist on that goal. However, with less than three minutes left in the second period, Chicago came back when Versteeg unleashed a wrist shot from the left circle during a 2-on-1 breakaway, beating Cam Ward glove side to tie the game at 1 heading into the third period.
Troy Brouwer scored the go-ahead goal after Patrick Kane skated behind the net and fed Brouwer for a 2-1 Blackhawks lead. However, it did not turn out to be the game winner as this happened:
The game went into overtime, where both teams had excellent scoring opportunities to win. Patrick Kane had two scoring chances on Ward, but was denied by the goalpost on his first chance and the netminder on his second. Eric Staal had a breakaway chance with three seconds to go, but Cristobal Huet stoned him cold to send the game to a shootout.
In the shootout, Jonathan Toews, Tuomo Ruutu, Patrick Kane, and Jussi Jokinen scored for their hockey clubs. The door flew open for Carolina when Dave Bolland clanged iron on his shootout attempt. Matt Cullen had a chance to win it for Carolina, but Cristobal Huet made his first save of the shootout at just the right time. One Versteeg goal and a Huet save on Sergei Samsonov later, the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves with an extra point in the race for the playoffs.
This was Chicago’s first win against Carolina in almost ten years; you would have to go back to April 3, 1999 to watch the last Blackhawks/Hurricanes game in which the Windy City emerged victorious. Since that time, the Hurricanes went 7-0-1 against Chicago.