CHICAGO – Another huge crowd. Another big victory for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Patrick Sharp scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season and the Chicago Blackhawks won their eighth straight to match the franchise record, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-1 on Friday night.
“It’s tough to find a weakness in our team right now,” Sharp said. “The best thing about these eight games is that our team’s stayed pretty mellow the whole time. We’re enjoying the ride, but we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves.”
In front of a franchise regular-season record crowd of 22,712, Andrew Ladd, Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg and Dave Bolland also scored, and Nikolai Khabibulin made 17 saves. The Blackhawks also won eight straight games in December 1971 and January 1981.
Mike Richards scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers were 2-0-1 in their last three games.
Philadelphia coach John Stevens refused to use the Flyers’ flight delay, which forced the cancellation of their morning skate, as an excuse.
“This team has lost only one game at home this year for a reason,” Stevens said about the Blackhawks, 11-1-4 at home. “I thought we were cheating all over the ice. We ended up taking too many penalties.”
The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes.
Ladd skated past Philadelphia centre Jeff Carter at 1:13, following up Martin Havlat’s shot to beat goalie Martin Biron on a rebound from the middle of the slot.
“I don’t know if they had their legs,” Ladd said. “They’re a team that’s big and strong and skates well.”
Sharp scored at 2:35, lifting a hard wrist shot over Biron from the crease after taking a pass from Patrick Kane.
After outshooting Philadelphia 14-1 in the second period, Chicago broke the game open early in the third. Campbell and Versteeg scored on 5-on-3 power plays, and Bolland also scored in the first six minutes.
“If you don’t score there, they get a lot of momentum,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of the two-man advantages. “We did a lot of smart things tonight. Took shots, went to the net. The simpler we play, the better we are. This was one of our better games all year, in all aspects.”
Philadelphia’s one shot in the second period, by Aaron Asham, tied a franchise low.
“That’s unacceptable,” winger Joffrey Lupul said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who are shooters and like to get to the net.”
Notes: The Flyers’ morning skate was cancelled because their flight was diverted from Midway Airport to O’Hare Airport thanks to a taxiway blocked by a Southwest Airlines plane. The team’s plane landed at O’Hare at noon, with the buses and equipment truck still at Midway. NHL policy calls for teams to fly to its next game the night before, with the exception a game the day after Christmas. … Philadelphia centre Glen Metropolit was back in the lineup after missing three games because a back injury. Chicago activated defenceman Aaron Johnson from injured reserve. He missed 11 games because of an injured left arm.