Myers: Top line pacing Blackhawks reversal

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Myers: Top line pacing Blackhawks reversal

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
Posted 5:21 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ST. LOUIS The numbers have been coming up on the score sheet in bunches lately: Nos. 10 (Patrick Sharp), 19 (Jonathan Toews) and 88 (Patrick Kane) in some combination or another.

Perhaps its just obvious given the talent. Or the natural chemistry. Or maybe its the overriding urgency of the situation.

Its that time of year where theres nothing to save it for, Toews said. Theres no more time to wait.

The Chicago Blackhawks top line is its top line for a reason. Sharp, Toews and Kane are opportunistic goal-scorers and play makers in their individual rights. Throw them together and just watch the fun.

But as good as this group is supposed to be with that No. 1 tag attached to them, theyre flat-out stellar right now. Theyre pacing the Blackhawks, who have now won three of their last four. And for the most part lately, theyve been the bulk, if not all, of the Blackhawks offense.

They know where each other is going to be but their level of intensity has picked up, said acting coach Mike Haviland. They really try to show the lead here in what needs to be done each night. Theyve been around, they know what it takes to win and we need to follow their lead for sure.

Indeed. Sharp scored his 31st goal of the season on Sunday against Pittsburgh. Toews and Kane each hit the 20-goal mark on Monday in St. Louis. They know their role, know everyones looking at them to lead the offensive assault, and theyre obliging.

I guess were just skating well, thats the difference out there. Were moving our feet and coming up with a lot of pucks, said Sharp, who needs five goals to tie his career-high 36 set in 2007-08. Jonathan and Patrick like to hold onto (the puck) and get open to shoot it. Weve gotten a lot of goals. Hopefully there are more to come.

Those three are doing their part, but as Haviland said, they cant be the only ones. The team finally got more across-the-board goals and points on Monday, when they came back to beat the St. Louis Blues 5-3. As the Blackhawks keep clawing back into the Western Conference playoff race, everyone else will have to help with the point production.

Nevertheless, that top line will point the way.

Its a sprint to the finish and were feeling that pressure to go out and score, Toews said. Were getting chances and eventually theyre going to go in. Were just working hard and keeping things simple.

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

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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Jonathan Marchessault scored his first career hat trick, James Reimer stopped 25 shots for his first shutout of the season and the Florida Panthers routed the Chicago Blackhawks 7-0 on Saturday night.

Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and three assists, and Aleksander Barkov added a goal and two assists for Florida. Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad also scored to give the Panthers their largest margin of victory since an 8-0 win over Toronto on Feb. 5, 2008.

Marchessault had two goals in a 3-1 win over Arizona on Thursday. He has nine goals over his last nine games and leads the Panthers with 28.

Corey Crawford stopped 21 shots for the Blackhawks before being lifted at 4:59 of the third for Scott Darling, who allowed three goals on six shots.

Already leading 3-0, the Panthers poured in four goals in the third.