With a 2003 calendar year that was mostly dismal from beginning to Wednesday night's end, the Blackhawks at least closed the book in an entertaining, if still losing, fashion.
A two-goal rally was spoiled when Todd Bertuzzi scored on a power play in overtime to give Vancouver a 4-3 victory before an announced crowd of 10,956 at the United Center.
Wednesday marked the return of captain Alex Zhamnov after he missed 35 games with a back injury. Zhamnov scored his first goal of the season, had a team-high six shots on goal and played 22 minutes 59 seconds.
"It was a little tough the first five minutes," Zhamnov said. "After that, it was fine. I think the second game will be much better."
Zhamnov centered a line with Steve Sullivan and Igor Korolev.
"Alex was pretty good," Hawks coach Brian Sutter said. "He's an inspiration when he plays the way he did."
Tuomo Ruutu is starting to become inspirational as well. The hype surrounding the rookie winger is starting to look justified.
Ruutu scored his fourth goal of the season on a power play midway through the third period to tie the game 3-3.
"It was a tough game to play in, a physical game, and [Ruutu] was good in it," Sutter said.
For a while, it looked as if Zhamnov's return would be the only positive on which the Hawks could bank.
After his goal tied the game 1-1Vancouver's Artem Chubarov had given the Canucks a lead at 5:48 of the firstHenrik Sedin and Brent Sopel scored within a 1:55 span to give the Canucks a two-goal cushion.
But Mark Bell cut the deficit to one with his eighth goal of the season with 35 seconds left in the second period.
Vancouver went on the power play in overtime when Burke Henry spun Bertuzzi around after the Hawks turned the puck over in their own end.
"He's a man playing with boys," Sutter said of the 6-foot-3-inch, 245-pound Bertuzzi. "He just said, 'It's my puck, I'm taking it and going to score.' And he did."
Bertuzzi parked himself in front of the Hawks' net and shoveled in a pass from Markus Naslund.
The loss closed out the 2003 year for the Hawks with a 21-39-14-10 record from last Jan. 1.