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The Chicago Blackhawks acquired Martin Havlat to bolster an offense that was one of the NHL's worst a season ago. The 25-year-old forward is doing just that.
Havlat looks to continue his strong start when the Blackhawks meet the Colorado Avalanche Monday at the Pepsi Center.
Chicago (2-2-0) sought a scoring threat in the offseason after ranking 29th in the NHL with 2.55 goals per game. The Blackhawks acquired Havlat in a six-player trade and signed him to a three-year, $18 million deal after injuries limited the left wing to 18 games for Ottawa in 2005-06.
Havlat had nine goals and seven goals in those 18 contests, however, and he has continued that success this season. He leads the NHL in goals (1.50) and points (2.50) per game and has helped boost Chicago's offense to the best in the league with 4.50 goals per game.
Havlat, who has two goals and two assists in five career contests against the Avalanche, had his second multigoal game of the season Saturday, but it wasn't enough as the Blackhawks lost 4-3 to the St. Louis Blues.
Bryan Smolinski, brought to Chicago from Ottawa in the same deal as Havlat, scored the Blackhawks' other goal on a short-handed opportunity, but his team's inability to thwart St. Louis' power-play chances cost it the game.
The Blackhawks killed off just 1 of 4 penalties Saturday and have stopped only 19 of 26 opponent power plays this season.
"Two of them were just traffic in front and I couldn't find them," said Blackhawks goaltender Brian Boucher, who made 24 saves in his first start of the season after Nikolai Khabibulin got the nod in the first three games. "When they score three power-play goals, you're not going to win may hockey games."
The Avalanche (1-1-2) have allowed just one power-play goal in 18 chances this season but they're still having trouble winning games. Colorado was the last NHL team to allow an extra-man goal, but finally had its perfect penalty killing streak snapped in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Edmonton.
The Avs outshot Edmonton 42-25, including a 21-13 advantage in the second period, but struggled to finish, a familiar problem this season. All three Colorado losses have come by one goal and the first two were decided in overtime.
"We just have to keep putting it on the net," Avs center Ian Laperriere said. "We're all squeezing our sticks a little more. If we keep putting 42 shots on net every night, we'll have more chances to win than lose."
Jose Theodore had trouble stopping the Oilers' shots Saturday, giving up a season-high four goals despite facing only 24 shots - his fewest of the season. The netminder, who is 1-1-1 with a 3.00 goals-against average this season, has faced Chicago four times during his career, going 2-2 with a 3.02 GAA.
Wojtek Wolski scored his team-leading third goal of the season Saturday for Colorado. Tyler Arnason and Milan Hejduk scored the other goals.
Chicago and Colorado split four meetings last season, but the Avs have lost just two of the teams' last 13 matchups in Colorado, outscoring the Blackhawks 51-24 in that span.