Eric Daze returned Friday night after missing the season's first 15 games because of back surgery. But with 1 minute 26 seconds to play in regulation, another Blackhawks left wing, Chris Simon, stole the show to keep his former team from stealing the game.
With the Hawks on the power play and goalie Jocelyn Thibault off the ice for an extra attacker, Simon managed to get a close-in shot past Washington Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig to tie the game 2-2, and that's the way it stayed in overtime.
Andrei Nikolishin in the Nov. 1 trade that sent Michael Nylander to Washington.
"Alex put the puck on net, and he redirected it," Sutter said. "Kolzig was incredible."
The season-high crowd of 18,555 at the United Center saw the Hawks outshoot the visitors 38-16. In extending their undefeated streak to five games (3-0-2) with their second straight tie, the Hawks held the Caps to a single shot in the first period and 12 in regulation time.
And their offense produced the 40th penalty shot in franchise history, albeit unsuccessful.
Daze assisted on Phil Housley's power-play goal that tied the score 1-1 late in the second period, but the deadlock was broken less than two minutes later when Robert Lang scored the goal that put the Caps back in front.
Like the Hawks, the Caps have been playing well (3-1-1 in their last five games). It took them just 3:37 to get the game's first goal on their only shot of the opening period. With the teams skating four against four because of coincidental minor penalties, Jaromir Jagr received a nifty pass from Jeff Halpern that provided him with a shot from the near right. A split second later the puck sped past Thibault for Jagr's 10th goal of the season.
With 42 seconds to play in the first period, Steve Sullivan was awarded the penalty shot after being dragged down by Ken Klee on a breakaway. Sullivan went to the net, put a move on Kolzig and tried to thrust a backhander past the goaltender. But Kolzig made a sprawling pad save, prolonging a 12-attempt Hawks drought dating back to Feb. 26, 1991.
Skating on the first line with Zhamnov and Sullivan, Daze played 16:33. His only shot on goal came in the third period.
"I thought Daze was fine," Sutter said. "Tonight was as fast a game as you'll ever see, and I don't think he looked out of place."
At the morning skate, Daze, who was the Hawks' leading scorer with 38 goals last season, pointed out that the circumstances surrounding his comeback are unlike those of his previous return from another back operation in March 2000.
"I have no fear of getting hit," he said. "As far as being in front of the net, I'll be there. The main thing is getting back my timing on the ice."
Daze's return overshadowed the other subplot to the game, the first meeting of the Hawks and Capitals since the trade involving Simonwho had played for Washington for the last six yearsNikolishin and Nylander.
CAPITALS 2, BLACKHAWKS 2