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|7 марта 2007 года.
Khabibulin fires a blank.
First shutout with Hawks results in victory vs. Kings
BY LEN ZIEHM Staff Reporter
Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, the highest-paid player in Blackhawks history, finally has a shutout with the team.
Khabibulin had played in 98 games for the Hawks in the last two seasons before his drought ended in a 3-0 victory Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center.
''I knew it'd happen sooner or later,'' Khabibulin said. ''It took longer than I expected. I'm glad it's over.''
Only 9,118 -- the Hawks' third crowd below 10,000 this season -- saw Khabibulin make 26 saves while his teammates played well in front of him. Rene Bourque scored 22 seconds into the game, and Patrick Sharp had his first two-goal game of the season.
The drama, though, came during the third period, when the Hawks where giving their all for Khabibulin.
''We were very conscious of [the shutout possibility],'' Sharp said, ''but we didn't talk about it for superstitious reasons.''
''I can imagine he wanted it bad,'' defenseman Duncan Keith said. ''We were pulling for him.''
The Hawks have had some shutouts since Khabibulin signed his four-year, $27 million contract, but they were with Craig Anderson, Adam Munro, Brian Boucher and Patrick Lalime in goal. Something always happened to prevent Khabibulin from getting one.
''I had a good feeling about tonight,'' Khabibulin said.
So did coach Denis Savard.
''At the end of our [morning skate], we had about 20 guys around the net shooting at him, and they couldn't get the puck in for about three minutes,'' Savard said. ''I told Steph [goalie coach Stephane Waite] that he should be good tonight. He was outstanding. Hopefully, many more [shutouts] will come.''
The victory got Khabibulin over the .500 mark (21-20-5) for the season and gave the Hawks their first two-game winning streak since Feb. 6-7, when they won at Calgary and Vancouver. The Hawks also opened a five-point lead on the Kings, the last-place team in the Western Conference, with 15 games left.