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Dallas at Chicago

Ruutu lifts Blackhawks in Savard's first game as coach

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- New coach. Same result -- so it seemed for two periods, anyway.

The Chicago Blackhawks were plodding again and seemed on their way to another loss in Denis Savard's first game as head coach. And then, everything changed.

Tuomo Ruutu took advantage of an opportunity and scored with 1:48 left to give Chicago a 2-1 victory over Dallas on Wednesday night.

Ruutu's shot trickled between goalie Marty Turco's pads after the Chicago center started the play by stealing the puck from Dallas star Mike Modano.

The goal, Ruutu's fifth of the season and fourth in five games, gave the Blackhawks their fourth victory in 16 games and their first over Dallas since Jan. 20, 2002.

"I haven't had that many breakaways in my career," Ruutu said.

Modano thought he had been hooked behind the Chicago net and skated toward the blue line, expecting the whistle to be blown. Ruutu then poke checked him, leading to the winning goal.

"I kind of let up a bit," Modano said. "Any stick to the hands or across the hips is usually a call. If I knew there wasn't going to be a call, I would've gotten rid of the puck quick."

Instead, Ruutu quickly picked up the puck and gave the struggling Blackhawks a rare victory.

They fired coach Trent Yawney on Monday, replacing him with longtime assistant Savard. They promised to deliver more aggressive forechecks and pick up the tempo, but the game was more of the same the first two periods. The pace was slow, the opportunities on offense scarce until the third.

"I told our guys after the guys it's not about me," Savard said. "I know they're happy for me, but they beat a great team."

The loss was the Stars' second straight, and both times, they blew a 1-0 lead in the final period. They allowed two short-handed goals Monday in a 2-1 loss to Detroit.

This time, Chicago's Duncan Keith unleashed a shot from the left point that nicked teammate Tony Salmelainen's stick on its way to the net. The goal, which stood after a video review, made it 1-1 with 8:17 left. Keith was initially credited with the goal, but statisticians gave it to Salmelainen after the game.

Dallas' goal came late in the first period, when Jere Lehtinen tipped in a pass from Loui Eriksson. The Stars' Marty Turco stopped 26 shots but suffered his first loss to Chicago. He is 11-1-1 against the Blackhawks.

"We had the lead in the third period; it doesn't matter how many goals," Turco said. "We were talking about finding ways, and we found ways to lose and it's not acceptable."

Nikolai Khabibulin had 20 saves for Chicago, which was 0-11-2-2 in its previous 15 games against Dallas.

Turco stopped Radim Vrbata's point-blank shot about 4:20 into the period, before Salmelainen tied it with the first goal of his career.

Then, Ruutu stripped Modano. And in the end, the Blackhawks could exhale.

"(Ruutu's) a horse," said Savard, who owns racehorses. "He's not as good as my horse, but he's good enough."

And the Blackhawks played just well enough to make Savard's debut a success.

Chicago altered the roster after finishing 26-43-13, the third-worst record last season, and the moves seemed to pay off during the preseason. With more skill and speed, they started 4-2 before collapsing under the weight of injuries to forwards Martin Havlat (sprained ankle) and Michal Handzus (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and Khabibulin (broken finger).

The losses started piling up, and with his team in danger of missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 years, Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon decided to make some changes. So he fired Yawney, who was 33-55-15 in a little more than one season. Then, he turned to Savard, who joined the staff in December 1997 and whose No. 18 hangs from the United Center rafters.

"It's not about me," Savard said. "The guys played their guts out. You've got to give them credit. It's not just the fact we won. We like the win for sure, but we stuck with them the whole game."

Notes

  • Modano suffered a lower body injury in warmups and missed the start of the game.
  • Dallas LW Brenden Morrow missed his second game with a groin strain.
  • Blackhawks D Adrian Aucoin missed his second game with a pulled groin.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Patrick Sharp, Bryan Smolinski haven't had many chances to celebrate this season. (US PRESSWIRE)
Patrick Sharp, Bryan Smolinski haven't had many chances to celebrate this season. (US PRESSWIRE)  

Scoreboard
Dallas (16-8-0)1001
Chicago  (8-12-2) «0022
Three Stars
T. Ruutu
CHI


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
N. Khabibulin
CHI


Saves: 20
Save Pct.: .952
M. Turco
DAL


Saves: 26
Save Pct.: .929
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
18:06Jere Lehtinen (4), Snap Shot - Assists: Loui Eriksson, Mike Modano
2ND PERIOD
None
3RD PERIOD
11:43Tony Salmelainen, Slap Shot - Assists: Duncan Keith, Mikael Holmqvist
18:12Tuomo Ruutu (5), Snap Shot - Unassisted.
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
04:28Seabrook: Tripping - 2 min.
10:22Smolinski: Hooking - 2 min.
2ND PERIOD
05:51Barnaby: Tripping - 2 min.
08:48Ruutu: Too Many Men on the Ice(bench) - 2 min.
12:21Klemm: Cross Check - 2 min.
3RD PERIOD
01:30Vrbata: Interference - 2 min.
08:00Sydor: Tripping - 2 min.
SHOTS ON GOAL
 123T
Dallas97521
Chicago691328
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Marty Turco58:38262
Nikolai Khabibulin59:55201
GAME INFORMATION
Attendance - 13164
Game Time - 60:00
Referees - Mike Leggo, Tim Peel
Line Judges - Lonnie Cameron, Brian Murphy
 
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