Ladd puts up point in re­turn to Chicago

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - MOOSEREPORT - By Jay Co­hen

CHICAGO — For all the star power with the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals and Chicago Black­hawks, it was a pretty con­nec­tion be­tween fourth-line for­wards that proved to be the dif­fer­ence.

Richard Panik kicked the puck from be­hind the net to a streak­ing Den­nis Ras­mussen for the rookie’s fourth goal at 12:47 of the third pe­riod, and the new-look Black­hawks topped the NHLlead­ing Cap­i­tals 3-2 Sun­day.

“I thought it was a beau­ti­ful pass,” Chicago coach Joel Quen­neville said with a grin, “one of best passes I’ve seen all year.”

Jonathan Toews and Pa­trick Kane also scored as the Black­hawks (39-205) won for only the third time in their last eight games. Corey Craw­ford made 28 saves, help­ing Chicago leapfrog idle Dal­las for the top spot in the Western Con­fer­ence with 83 points.

The Black­hawks were com­ing off dis­ap­point­ing losses to Min­nesota and Nashville, but the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­ons got a boost from two of their new­est play­ers ac­quired in a flurry of moves last week. An­drew Ladd got an as­sist in his re­turn to Chicago af­ter he was reac­quired in a trade with Win­nipeg Thurs­day night, and To­mas Fleis­chmann had a solid de­but af­ter he came over in a trade with Mon­treal on Fri­day.

“It was nice to be around fa­mil­iar faces from the guys who were around when I was here be­fore,” Ladd said. “There are a lot of things dif­fer­ent — they’ve changed this whole room around — and a lot of new faces, but just fun to be back.”

Mar­cus Jo­hans­son and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for Wash­ing­ton (45-124), which had won five of six. Braden Holtby made 20 saves while drop­ping to 39-7-3 on the year.

“You can def­i­nitely see why their top play­ers are their top play­ers,” Cap­i­tals coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought to­day had a lit­tle bit of a play­off feel. It’s just an­other good ex­pe­ri­ence for us.”

The na­tion­ally tele­vised se­cond meet­ing of the sea­son be­tween two of the NHL’s top teams — Wash­ing­ton beat Chicago 4-1 on Oct. 15 — was a highly en­ter­tain­ing af­fair played at a break­neck pace for much of the day in front of a sea­son-high crowd of 22,218 at the United Cen­ter.

With the Cap­i­tals en­joy­ing a 5-on-3 power play, Kuznetsov stuffed home his 19th goal from a tough an­gle with 3:21 left, trim­ming Chicago’s lead to one. But the Black­hawks killed off the rest of de­fence­man Nik­las Hjal­mars­son’s un­sports­man­like con­duct penalty and held on for the vic­tory.

“That was a heck of a hockey game to­day, I thought,” Wash­ing­ton de­fence­man Matt Niska­nen said. “There was a lot of high pace, good scor­ing chances, good goaltending, a lot of good stuff out there. Un­for­tu­nately we were on the short end of it, but it was a good game, good team.”

The score was tied at 1 in the se­cond pe­riod be­fore Teuvo Ter­a­vainen set up Toews’ 22nd goal with a slick pass over the middle to the cap­tain. Ladd helped get the puck to an open Ter­a­vainen off a scram­ble in front.

Ladd pre­vi­ously played for Chicago for two-plus sea­sons, help­ing the Black­hawks win the Stan­ley Cup in 2010. He got a loud ova­tion when he was in­tro­duced with the start­ing lineup be­fore the game.

Ras­mussen’s first goal since Dec. 19, stop­ping a 29-game drought, made it 3-1. Panik used his right foot to slide it to Ras­mussen in front.

“It was a re­ally nice pass,” Ras­mussen said. “I ac­tu­ally saw him have the puck un­der his skate and kinda re­al­ized he’s gonna make that play. I’ve seen it done in prac­tice. I was ready for it.”

The Cap­i­tals felt there might have been a missed ic­ing call on the se­quence that led to Ras­mussen’s goal.

“Chicago’s a good mea­sur­ing stick, but we were down on what we thought were ic­ing calls,” Trotz said. “It was a tough night for the lines­men tonight, I’ll tell you.”


For­mer Win­nipeg Jet An­drew Ladd chipped in with an as­sist Sun­day in his first game back with the Black­hawks.

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