The Blackhawks got back in their playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings with a 4-3 overtime win Friday night. Patrick Sharp's game-winning goal cut Detroit's lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
But the victory came at a heavy price as the Hawks lost both starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and leading scorer Martin Havlat to injury. Khabibulin is likely out of Sunday's Game 4 with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
Havlat took a vicious check from Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall (left) and appeared to be out cold before he hit the ice. Kronwall was given a major penalty and a game misconduct, and Havlat never returned to the game. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday that he is "optimistic" that Havlat will play Sunday.
I'm not so optimistic about that. I'll believe Havlat is playing only when I see him on the ice. And make no mistake about it, Havlat will be a tough guy for the Blackhawks to replace. This season, he has led the Hawks in scoring in both regular season and playoffs. He plays on the Hawks' No. 1 power-play unit. He's one of their best forwards in 4-on-4 situations. He has scored HUGE goals in these playoffs, tying two games in the closing moments of regulation and winning one in overtime. Havlat is a gamebreaker when healthy, and up until this point, he's been healthy. That's a big reason the Hawks have gotten as far as they have.
Losing Khabibulin sucks, but backup Cristobal Huet is an experienced veteran. He played admirably in the third period and overtime in relief of Khabibulin on Friday night. The dropoff from Khabibulin to Huet isn't that far, and I think Huet is capable of stepping up and giving the Hawks a big game.
But if Havlat is out, the Hawks are definitely a weaker team.