CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks are off to their best start in seven season, the last time they made the playoffs.
Patrick Sharp and Andrew Ladd each had two goals and an assist, leading the Blackhawks over the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 on Monday night for their third straight victory.
Troy Brouwer and Cam Barker also scored for Chicago, which improved to 6-3-3 overall and remained unbeaten in regulation at home (5-0-2).
“So far we’ve been pretty good at home,” Ladd said. “Something we’ve stressed as a team is to make it hard for other teams to come into this building.”
The Blackhawks also were 6-3-3 through their first 12 games in 2001-02, the only season in the last 10 in which they qualified for the playoffs.
On Monday, Chicago launched a string of five straight home games by pulling away late. The Blackhawks led just 3-2 early in the third, but Sharp connected twice and Ladd scored once in the final 9:28 of regulation to seal the victory.
“We talked about how we want to gather up as many points as we can in this homestand,” said Sharp, who leads Chicago with nine goals and 16 points. “It was a good first game. We’re learning how to win games.”
The Blackhawks improved to 5-1-2 under coach Joel Quenneville, who replaced Denis Savard on Oct. 16 four games into the season. Quenneville, who coached Colorado the last three seasons, faced his old team for the first time.
“I’m glad it’s over with,” Quenneville said. “It’s tricky, kind of like playing against your old buddies, but at the same time we mean business.”
Ben Guite and Milan Hejduk scored for the Avalanche, who lost their fourth straight. Peter Budaj stopped 31 shots.
“The last 30 minutes of the game were pretty tough to watch,” Colorado coach Tony Granato said. “The first 30 minutes we came and played with intensity and had chance to win.”
Colorado’s Adam Foote assisted on Guite’s goal, giving him 181 assists with the Avalanche and tying Sandis Ozolinsh’s team record for defencemen.
Guite scored the lone goal of the first period with 3:38 left on a shot Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin misplayed. Guite’s 40-foot drive from right wing struck Khabibulin’s stick, then rolled under him and over the goal-line.
Ladd tied it 1-1 early in the second. From the low edge of the left circle, he ripped in a rebound of Dustin Byfuglien’s shot from the slot.
Brouwer’s goal gave Chicago a 2-1 lead with 2:19 left in the second. As Brouwer skated to the net, Sharp’s shot glanced off the back of his leg. The puck rolled toward the goal and Brouwer stuffed it in.
Barker’s power-play goal at 1:21 of the third made it 3-1. His screened drive from the slot slipped between Budaj’s pads.
Just less than a minute later, Hejduk cut it to 3-2 on a shot from the right circle that beat Khabibulin just inside the left post.
Sharp made it 4-2 midway through the third when he scored from between the circles to complete a 3-on-2 break.
Ladd fired in his second goal from a sharp angle left of the net with just more than four minutes left to make it 5-2. Sharp’s second goal, from the slot, completed the scoring with 2:34 left.
Khabibulin made 24 saves.
Notes: Quenneville compiled a 131-92-23 record in three seasons with Colorado, but his contract was not renewed after the Avalanche were eliminated in the second round of the 2008 playoffs. … The Blackhawks’ next road game is Nov. 18 at Phoenix when they begin a six-game trip.