Blackhawks secure NHL's best record

Blackhawks secure NHL's best record

April 24, 2013, 11:15 pm
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EDMONTON, Alberta – Patrick Sharp’s shot landed in the back of Edmonton’s empty net, guaranteeing the Chicago Blackhawks a pretty, shiny trophy on Wednesday night.

Now they’ll focus on getting that other pretty, shiny trophy.

[WATCH: Highlights of the Blackhawks' win over Oilers]

Patrick Kane’s 22nd goal of the season proved to be the game-winner, and the Blackhawks claimed the Presidents’ Trophy with their 4-1 victory over Edmonton at Rexall Place. It’s the second time in franchise history the Blackhawks have taken the Presidents’ Trophy, introduced before the 1985-86 season. They also won it in the 1990-91 season.

Ray Emery started the game but left with just over six minutes remaining in the first period. Emery, who stopped seven of eight before departing, had a lower-body injury according to coach Joel Quenneville. It was deemed “not serious.” Corey Crawford came in, stopping all 14 shots he saw.

[MORE: Emery leaves Wednesday's game with lower-body injury]

Jonathan Toews scored his 22nd of the season and Johnny Oduya added his third goal of the season for the Blackhawks. Drew LeBlanc had a good showing in his NHL debut, playing just over 12 minutes with three shots on goal.

And as happy the Blackhawks were in getting that trophy, and of the performances this season that led to it, other hardware is more coveted.

“As far as the (Presidents’) Trophy, it’s a huge accomplishment. It’s going to be something we can look back on and be proud of,” said Sharp, who had a little knee scare a few moments before his empty-net goal but is OK. “But obviously we’re playing for much bigger trophies. Hopefully we can ride this into the playoffs.”

Riding momentum hasn’t been a big problem for the Blackhawks this season. But playing in Rexall Place in the past has been. The Blackhawks have been outgunned, outscored and outplayed their last few trips here, and made a concerted effort to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Still, when the Blackhawks led 2-1 after just eight minutes, there was a feeling it could be one of those nights.

“The way it started it was like, ‘Well, here we go,” Quenneville said. “But I thought we checked more effectively today than the last couple times in here. Our team game was as good as we’ve seen it the last few times we’ve been here.”

[WATCH: Corey Crawford's unbelievable save]

Sharp said the Oilers’ scoring threat was part of the pregame discussion.

“It’s something we talked about, for sure. These guys have a way of trading offense on us. They have players who can create things out of, it seems like, nothing,” Sharp said. “We limited their chances as best we could.”

Indeed, the run-and-gun ended up being more run than gun for the Oilers, who, after recording 11 shots in the first period, got just 11 more over the next two periods. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, kept the pressure on Devan Dubnyk, especially in the third period when they scored twice to seal it.

[MORE -- Crawford: The defense was unreal again]

The Blackhawks clinched a nice bit of hardware on Wednesday night. They’ll enjoy it, for the time being. In a few days, pursuing other trophies will become a little more important.

“It’s a pretty cool accomplishment. To have the start we had and keep playing that consistently is an amazing thing for our team. We’re happy with where we’re at,” Toews said. “But we know in a week or so it’s not going to mean anything. The season starts over again.”