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Havlat, Bourque lead Blackhawks to comeback win over Predators

Oct 6, 2006 - 3:05 AM NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- The Chicago Blackhawks acquired Martin Havlat in the offseason in an attempt to boost a weak offense. He did just that in his debut with the team.

Havlat recorded two goals and two assists and Rene Bourque notched three points as the Blackhawks soared to an 8-6 victory over the Nashville Predators in the season opener for both clubs.

Havlat, who netted a career-high 31 goals in 2003-04, scored Chicago's first tally at 5:15 of the first period and added an empty-netter with 55 seconds left to preserve the victory.

"It's good to get two goals tonight, but I still have a lot of things to work on," Havlat said. "I'm happy to be on the winning side, but a 1-0 win would have been the same feeling."

"Your best players need to be your best players in order to win," Chicago coach Trent Yawney said. "Martin Havlat was really good tonight."

Bourque, Radim Vrbata, Martin Lapointe, Michal Handzus, Patrick Sharp and Bryan Smolinski also scored for the Blackhawks, whose 2.55 goals-per-game average ranked 29th in the NHL last season. Vrbata's tally, which capped a four-goal spurt and opened a 7-4 lead with 6:52 remaining in the third period, proved to be the game-winner.

David Legwand led the Predators with two goals and an assist, while Steve Sullivan, Martin Erat and defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Suter recorded two points apiece for the Predators, who went 6-2-0 against the Blackhawks last season.

"We can't be giving up eight goals at home," Legwand said. "When you score six goals against anyone, you should be able to win. When it is 4-4 going into the third, we have to take advantage of that and not give up three or four goals."

Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 34 shots, while Nashville netminder Tomas Vokoun made 25 saves.

"I have to work on my job of stopping the puck," Vokoun said. "I have to correct my mistakes and do better next time. I think that we are better than we showed tonight."

Khabibulin is trying to rebound from a poor season in which he went 17-26-6 with a 3.35 goals-against average and .886 save percentage.

"It's not fun to let in six, but I guess it is fun when you score eight," Khabibulin said. "I could have been better, but it is nice to start the season with a win, especially against a good team like that."

The Blackhawks fell behind, 2-0, less than five minutes into the game. But Havlat, Sharp and Handzus scored in a 5:09 span to give Chicago a 3-2 edge.

"I really like that the guys battled back, especially early in the game," Yawney said. "There was no quit in them, they deserve a lot of the credit. We were a little tight to start the game, and obviously, we need to shore up some things. A win is a win, and we will take a win against a good team like that."

Chicago, which finished the preseason with a 7-1-0 mark, is trying to build some momentum.

"We played well in the preseason, and I think that led into a good effort tonight," Lapointe said. "It wasn't a great game by us, but it is nice to get a win when you don't play your best."






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