By Drew Davison
DALLAS — Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa might get most of the headlines when it comes to the Chicago Blackhawks’ top line. But Patrick Sharp is just as important.
It showed Saturday night.
Sharp had a hand in the Blackhawks’ first four goals and recorded a rare four-assist night in a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars in a Central Division game at the American Airlines Center. Chicago has now won five of its last six games, a stretch of success extended thanks in large part to Sharp.
“Tonight he was unbelievable,” said Marian Hossa, who scored two goals assisted by Sharp. “Overall he’s poised with the puck, he can find you, he can shoot the puck extremely well. Right now he’s hot. The whole line is playing well.”
Said Sharp, who had his only other four-assist game on March 14, 2011: “One of those nights where you try to make the right play and my linemates were putting the puck in the net.”
It started in the first two periods when the Blackhawks had to battle back from a pair of deficits.
The Stars jumped out to a 1-0 lead two seconds after the Blackhawks had killed off a power play in the first period on a goal by Cody Eakin.
The Blackhawks had a couple good looks after that and finally capitalized late in the first period. Toews gathered the puck behind the Stars’ net, wrapped around and found an open Hossa, who scored easily to tie it at 1-1 with 3:09 left. Sharp got an assist on the play.
"(Toews) gets separation, and on that little wrap move on Hossa he might have gotten lucky,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was a big goal for us to get on the board.”
Dallas regained a 2-1 lead 6:54 into the second period, though, when centers Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin hooked up on a nice play to beat the defense and goalie Corey Crawford.
The Hawks responded less than three minutes later when Patrick Kane got the puck to Toews in front of the net midway through the period. Toews’ shot initially appeared to be blocked by Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, but it took a favorable bounce across the goal line to tie it at 2. Sharp was also credited with an assist.
Chicago then took its first lead of the game on a power play goal with 1:45 left in the second. It couldn’t have been drawn up better, either, as Sharp made a crisp pass to Andrew Shaw, who then sent it on to a streaking Kane. Kane finished it off with relative ease for his 10th goal of the year.
Kane had a chance to extend the lead with about 25 seconds left in the second on a fast break but had his shot blocked by Lehtonen.
Chicago managed to hold its 3-2 lead the majority of the third period behind a few nice saves by Crawford and then pulled away late.
Hossa sealed it with 1:41 left when he broke loose for his eighth goal of the season, and then defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson added an empty netter with about a minute left.
“I thought overall we played a real strong game, discounting the penalties we took,” Quenneville said.