Mighty matinee as Sharp, Hawks cook Ducks

Mighty matinee as Sharp, Hawks cook Ducks
November 26, 2010, 11:29 pm
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Friday, Nov. 26, 2010
Updated 7:24 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Duncan Keith's shorthanded shot looked like it was playing out in slow motion, the puck hitting off Jonas Hiller's inner leg before methodically rolling toward, and then over, the goal line.

But with that shot, the Chicago Blackhawks reversed their penalty killing woes and jump-started their offense.

Patrick Sharp had the game-winning goal and set up Keith's shorthanded tally as the Blackhawks scored four unanswered goals in a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday afternoon.

Corey Crawford was strong in net, stopping 26 of 27 en route to his third career victory over Anaheim. Niklas Hjalmarsson scored his first of the season and Troy Brouwer also scored as the Blackhawks found the back of the net three times in the third to cap a strong outing.

"We've lost a lot of games this year by just one or two goals in the third period so that was a huge win for us and our confidence to play like we did today," Hjalmarsson said. "We're on the right track here."

The Blackhawks once again had a strong start, outshooting the Ducks 13-6. But they gave one up on their first penalty kill, something that's been struggling on this road trip.

On the Ducks' second power play, however, the Blackhawks struck. Sharp grabbed an errant Ducks pass and threw it to Keith, who was charging toward Anaheim starter Jonas Hiller. It looked like Hiller had stopped it, but the puck trickled through.

"We gave up one early, but it was a great play on that Keith goal and we shut them down after that," Brian Campbell said. "Anytime you get a shorthanded goal it lifts your team up."

It did. The Blackhawks shut down that Anaheim power play, as well as the next three. They also took advantage of Ducks miscues. Sharp's game-winner, his fourth this season, came when he intercepted a bad Andy Sutton pass in the slot and beat Hiller for the 2-1 lead.

"You could say that's one of the bigger ones all year," coach Joel Quenneville said of the goal. "He had a great setup on the shorty as well. I like his production and what he brings."

Crawford, meanwhile, was stoic. He came up with some big stops en route to his fourth victory this season, including two on Corey Perry and another on Dan Sexton's early breakaway attempt.

"It was a good day," said Crawford, who won his third consecutive start. "They have a good power play and a top line that can break out at any moment. I was just prepared, trying to get ready for all of them."

Quenneville chose Crawford Friday because of his strong showings vs. Anaheim. Asked if Crawford could start Saturday in Los Angeles, Quenneville said, "we'll talk about it tomorrow," he said. "I thought he did a very good job. He's been very consistent. This one's big."

The Blackhawks' three victories on this road trip have been convincing ones. They were stronger on kills and offense on Friday. Getting that type of game more often is next on the list.

"It's nice to be up in the game and be able to keep adding on to the lead instead of it being so tight all the time," Keith said. "Every goal was a big goal, whether it kept our momentum or kept them down. We need to keep doing what did today, have that mindset, don't change anything."

Familiar pairs

The Blackhawks reverted back to their usual defensive pairs. Keith and Brent Seabrook were together again, as were Hjalmarsson and Campbell. The comfort level looked restored, too.

"I don't mind who I play with, but knowing what (Hjalmarsson's) going to do out there definitely helps us in areas," Campbell said. "We just figure it out. We mix well together."

Weight lifted

Niklas Hjalmarsson reacts after scoring his first goal of the season Friday afternoon in Anahaeim. Hjalmarsson doubled his point total with the goal and is a minus-4 on the year. (AP)Hjalmarsson waited longer than he wanted for his first goal of the season but was happy when it came on Friday.

"It's nice to see a puck go in; it doesn't happen too often for me," he said. "I had a bad start this year. The first 10 games didn't play well at all but the last 10 games have been better."

Exelby signed

The Blackhawks signed Garnet Exelby to a contract and assigned him back to the Rockford IceHogs on Friday. Exelby, the Rockford captain, had been with the organization on a player tryout contract prior to Friday's signing.
Briefly

Seabrook is OK after taking a puck to the groin area for the second consecutive game. "I'm just trying to get in front of shots and do what I can to block them. This one deflected off my stick and went off my leg. It didn't feel too good." ... Keith's short-handed goal was the fifth of his career. He's third among active NHL defensemen in that category, behind Nicklas Lidstrom (10) and Adam Foote (6).

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.