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Havlat stays hot as Blackhawks edge Canadiens

Oct 19, 2006 - 3:26 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Martin Havlat has been everything the Chicago Blackhawks hoped he would be - and more.

Havlat scored his seventh goal and Bryan Smolinski netted the go-ahead tally in the third period to lift the Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

Signed as a free agent in the offseason, Havlat is tied for the league lead in goals and his 13 points top the league. The veteran has at least one point in each of Chicago's six contests.

Havlat gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 49 seconds into the first period. The left wing picked up a loose puck at center ice, streaked down the right side and around Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov before sliding a backhander past goaltender David Aebischer.

"I did lose control of the puck trying to get it back on my forehand, it just slipped pretty nicely and I am happy about that," Havlat said of his tally.

Christopher Higgins tied the game for the Canadiens (3-1-2) with just over two minutes left in the first period by following up his own rebound and jamming the puck past goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin for his fourth tally of the season.

"I didn't have much room to shoot, so all I could do was sneak it through the five-hole," Higgins said.

Higgins has points in five of Montreal's six games.

After a scoreless second period, Smolinski provided the game-winner two minutes into the final session. The veteran center cruised through the slot, took a pass from Tony Salmelainen from behind the net and beat Aebischer with a shot just inside the goalpost.

"It's nice to contribute and help us get a second win in a row," Smolinski said. "Now we need to build on that."

Chicago, which entered 7-for-29 on the power play, went 0-for-7. Montreal was blanked in six opportunities with the man advantage.

Khabibulin, in his second year with the Blackhawks, finished with 28 saves.

"He is giving us a chance every night, and that's all you can ask of your goaltender," Chicago coach Trent Yawney said.

The Blackhawks (4-2-0) are hoping the good start inspires confidence, and rightly so. They have failed to qualify for the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons.

"I think every win adds confidence," Havlat said. "It was just nice to get that second goal and then control the game on defense."

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