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Ruutu, Calder lead Chicago

2/26/2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Many of the household names are gone from
the Chicago Blackhawks, sacrificed to give several budding stars a
chance to take over.

Tuomo Ruutu and Kyle Calder are making the most of the
opportunity.

Twenty-one-year-old Ruutu had two goals and an assist, and
25-year-old Calder added the winning goal and two assists to
lead the Blackhawks to a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on
Wednesday night.

"That's what happens when veteran players leave," Chicago
coach Brian Sutter said, hearkening back to his days as Calgary's
head coach from 1997 to 2000. "I can remember ... us saying we'll
never know how good Derek Morris, Robyn Regehr and Jarome Iginla
are until a couple of the older guys leave. All of a sudden, those
guys became stars overnight and everybody knew them."

Columbus scrambled back from a 3-1 deficit to pull even early in
the third period. But Calder redirected Ruutu's slap shot from the
top of the right circle with 3:50 left.

"He knows that I'm going there, so I was able to get my stick
on it," Calder said of Ruutu. "I just heard it hit the post and
it was in the net."

Stephane Robidas added a short-handed goal and an assist for the
Blackhawks.

David Vyborny and Anders Eriksson had a goal and an
assist apiece for Columbus, which lost its fifth in a row. Tyler Wright
added the other Blue Jackets goal, and Rick Nash had a career-high
three assists.

The Blue Jackets tied it at 3-all on Wright's power-play goal 5:09
into the final period.

Columbus weathered a four-minute double-minor for high-sticking
on Eriksson midway through the period before Calder got his 18th
goal.

Craig Anderson, who shut out the Blue Jackets 7-0 in January,
covered Vyborny's tip off a pass from Nash with 30 seconds left.

"There's a lot of positives here," Anderson said after
stopping 39 shots. "A lot of guys here want to prove to everybody
that they can play in this league. You have first-year guys that
probably wouldn't have expected to be in the NHL this year, and
they're here. And they're proving they can step up and do a job
that a 10-year veteran can do."

The Blackhawks scored six seconds into a Columbus power play in the opening period. Chicago won the faceoff, with Robidas skating to the right point before firing a shot that deflected off the skate of the Blue Jackets' Andrew Cassels. It was Robidas' third goal of the season and extended his points streak to three games.

Columbus, which tied a season high with 42 shots, pulled even
moments later when Nash fed Vyborny for a one-timer from the high
slot. Cassels, activated earlier in the day after missing 22 games
with a broken foot, picked up an assist.

Chicago answered with Ruutu's 11th on a long rebound.

Ruutu's second goal made it 3-1 early in the second period. He
skated past two defenders to beat goaltender Marc Denis, who had
lost his stick earlier when Calder collided with him.

"I'm improving. I'm much more confident with the puck," Ruutu
said. "Now I'm holding the puck, I'm not just trying to throw it
into space."

Eriksson ran his points string to four with his sixth goal, one
under his career high. His shot from the left circle appeared to be
redirected by Nash, who came into the game tied for the NHL lead in
goals with 33. Nash initially was credited with the goal, but it was
given to Eriksson after a review.

Nash blasted the officials after the game for not calling a
slashing penalty on Jim Vandermeer late in the first period. He
missed the start of the second period while getting his wrist
wrapped. He'll undergo tests Thursday.

"It's how guys get broken wrists -- when refs don't make the
calls," Nash said. "No penalty. That's why there's so many broken
wrists in this game. They hand out the memos and talk about the
slashing, but they don't do anything."

Game notes
Tyler Arnason's goal early in the third period for Chicago
was disallowed because it was knocked into the net with a high
stick. ... Ruutu tied a career best with two goals, and Calder
matched his high with three points. ... Eriksson has 11 points in
his last 13 games. ... Wright's goal ended an 0-for-26 streak on
the power play by the Blue Jackets.