Blackhawks net six, destroy Blue Jackets

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Blackhawks net six, destroy Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio If the Blackhawks want to string a few victories together after that awful losing streak, theyre going to need their best players to be just that.

On Saturday afternoon they were.

Top liners Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane combined for eight points and Corey Crawford stopped 34 of 35 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-1 at Nationwide Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Blackhawks won their second in a row and now have 69 points, just three points behind fifth-place Nashville.

The Blackhawks werent exactly a well-running machine all game; got off to a ragged start, trailing 1-0 when Derick Brassard scored off a Sami Lepisto turnover. But a cleaner game, a great goaltending performance and six unanswered goals later, the Blackhawks were wrapping up this grueling nine-game road trip on a positive note.

We had the low start and Toews had that nice goal to get us going. We played better the rest of the first period after that, said Duncan Keith, who had an assist and was a plus-4. We were able to make some nice plays and capitalize. But I still think defensively, were working on things.

Perhaps. But if the Blackhawks had a lapse on Saturday their goaltending came through for them. Crawford played one of his best games in some time, stopping everything after Brassards first-period goal.

He was huge, Sharp said of Crawford. Its a tough position: you take heat when you lose and get credit when you win. He was solid back there, really a staple in the defensive scheme.

Crawford said hes felt better about his game these last two starts.

Ive slowed things down, Crawford said. Im not moving around as much, Im being patient and reading the play a little bit better. Our guys are getting in shooting lanes, too.

With Crawford shoring up one end, the Blackhawks top line went to work at the other. Toews driving goal in the first period tied things up he also had two assists later -- and the Blackhawks never looked back. Sharp had a goal and two assists and Kane had an assist and his 13th goal of the season.

We worked hard, stayed patient and we knew the chances were going to come, Toews said. Consistently over 60 minutes we got those chances and those goals.

Viktor Stalbergs goal was his eighth against Columbus this season. Lepisto, who was benched for quite a while after that early turnover, came back to score his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform.

The Blackhawks didnt finish this road trip playing the perfect game. But considering how rough the first seven games of it were, they just needed to get some victories and get some confidence back, from goaltending on out.

Now they need to bring that home again, starting against a tough St. Louis Blues team. The confines get more familiar, but the schedule wont get easier.

Its been a long trip, coach Joel Quenneville said. Its going to be a quick morning, too.

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.

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