Stalberg's hat trick helps Blackhawks end skid

Stalberg's hat trick helps Blackhawks end skid
January 11, 2012, 3:55 am
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Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 10:55 p.m.

Viktor Stalberg had come close to getting hat tricks against the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this season. But in two previous games here he had to be happy with two-goal performances in each.

On Tuesday, he got his trifecta.

Stalberg notched his first career hat trick and Corey Crawford stopped 32 of 34 in the Blackhawks 5-2 victory over the Blue Jackets. It was a big night for Stalberg against a team hes pounced on; seven of his 12 goals this season have come against Columbus.

Ben Smith and Dave Bolland also scored for the Blackhawks, who had a scary moment in the first when Jonathan Toews took a Duncan Keith shot to the head. The shot hit Toews in the helmet, then hit off the post. Toews went to the locker room for a few minutes and came back with two sets of stitches above his left eye.

Its one of those things; it hits me in the face and it doesnt go in, joked Toews who still has stitches in his lip from the Edmonton game last week.

Stalbergs second goal proved to be the game-winner, and hes now recorded that all three times Columbus has played here this season.

It was something I had a couple of chances before to get and it hasnt happened, so its a great feeling obviously, Stalberg said. I wish it was like that every night. Hopefully I can keep it going against some other teams. But playing them it seems like Im getting a lot of chances and the puck is finding me a lot out there.

Stalberg completed his hat trick by chasing down an empty-net opportunity with 1:40 remaining.

Ive never seen him skate so fast on the empty netter, Jamal Mayers said. I mean hes fast but that was really fast. He wanted that hat trick.

The Blackhawks penalty kill also came up big on Tuesday. Steve Montador and Mayers both got instigator penalties for their respective fights against Jared Boll, and Montador was also assessed an unsportsmanlike. But the Blackhawks went 5 for 5 on the kill and Bolland scored a short-handed effort early in the second.

That made a huge difference, Toews said. We know its going to be a big part of us winning some tight games, and it couldve been much different tonight if we werent on top of our game there.

The Blackhawks got the special teams they needed on one end and the offense they needed on the other.

Six minutes were short handed (early) and we did an outstanding job of killing. It was effective for us coming out of there clean, coach Joel Quenneville said. Our power play needs to be better. But there are some good things in our game that were pleased with.