Havlat took a pass from Dave Bolland and his quick wrist shot from between the circles 12 seconds into overtime Thursday night beat Miikka Kiprusoff and gave the Blackhawks a rousing 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames.
After tying it late in regulation, Havlat delivered the third-fastest overtime goal in playoff history, and sent the towel-waving crowd at the United Center into a frenzy.
"We were patient, sticking to the plan until the end. There wasn't planning going into overtime," Havlat said. "I was shooting to score a goal."
Calgary coach Mike Keenan said there could have been interference called on the play.
"I believe it was Ladd who did not try to stop his movement toward the net and that's goaltender interference," Keenan said. "However, the officials saw it different or didn't make the call because of the excitement of overtime."
Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series is Saturday night in Chicago.
"We can expect them to come out with a better game," said Chicago's Cam Barker, who tied it at 1 in the second. "It might have taken us a little bit to get into this game, but once we did, we started making more plays."
Mike Cammalleri gave Calgary a 2-1 lead about four minutes into the final period when he scored on a 2-on-1 break, taking a nice pass from Daymond Langkow.
But Chicago got even with 5:33 left when Havlat scored on his own rebound after Kiprusoff stopped his initial shot from the right circle.
David Moss opened the scoring for the Flames in the first period.
Havlat was three seconds off the NHL record of nine seconds set by Brian Skrudland for Montreal in 3-2 vwin over Calgary on May 18, 1986, in the Stanley Cup Finals. J.P. Parise of the Islanders scored in 11 seconds of OT against the Rangers in 1975, and Chicago's Pit Martin also scored at 12 seconds in 1972 against Pittsburgh.
Kiprusoff finished with 25 saves, including one on Bolland to preserve the tie in the closing seconds of regulation. Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin, who has a 22-5-2 regular-season record against the Flames and beat them in the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals while with Tampa Bay, made 23 stops.
"He [Havlat] has scored a lot of big goals for us this year," Khabibulin said. "Tonight he put us on his back."
Chicago won the regular-season series 4-0, outscoring the Flames 19-7, but Calgary's physical play from the outset Thursday night showed that the regular season has little bearing once the postseason starts.
"We established a pretty good road game to start with, but we couldn't sustain it in the third period when it was most necessary," Keenan said. "And to win on the road, you have to be able to push back when there is a momentum. You look after the details and stay assertive and stay forceful in terms of your defensive posture and not get on your heels a little bit, which I think we did."
The Blackhawks have only 10 players with postseason experience and it took a while for them to adjust.
Barker's tying score in the second came as he skated along the left circle and sent a wrist shot past Kiprusoff, who was screened on the play by teammate Anders Erikssson.
Former Blackhawk Rene Bourque delivered a crushing hit on 20-year-old Chicago star Patrick Kane, sending him into the boards and then to the ice in the second period, an example of the approach applied by the Flames.
But the Hawks began to match the physical play as the second period progressed and Barker's goal gave them a lift to carry into the final period. Kane had a breakaway attempt with 37 seconds left in the period but Kiprusoff flicked it away at the last second with his glove.
Moss, parked in front of the net, chopped a shot past Khabibulin -- the score coming after a 3-on-2 for the Flames. Craig Conroy took the first shot that bounced off Khabibulin before Curtis Glencross retrieved it and pushed it toward the goal where Moss converted at 8:38 of the first.
Chicago had a first-period power play opportunity after Kiprusoff flipped the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty, but the Blackhawks couldn't convert.
Chicago's Jonathan Toews was assessed a double minor for high-sticking, giving the Flames a four-minute power play that carried over into the first 28 seconds of the second period. But Calgary, which was 0-for-43 on the power play over its final 10 regular-season games, failed again with the extra man, getting off only one shot.
- Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears' newly acquired quarterback, dropped the ceremonial first puck.
- Blackhawks RW Patrick Sharp, who missed the final five games with a knee injury, returned.
- Havlat's goals were his 15th and 16th in the playoffs.
- Calgary is making its fifth straight playoff appearance.