CHICAGO – Ray Emery is looking more and more like the Chicago Blackhawks’ No. 1 goalie.
Emery stopped 24 shots, and Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa each had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks, who beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 on Friday night for their fourth straight win.
Jamal Mayers and Dave Bolland also scored for Chicago, which moved into a first-place tie with Minnesota in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks, 6-0-1 in their last seven, have 44 points.
Emery, who has taken over for struggling top goalie Corey Crawford, started and won for the fourth straight game. He has played in six straight—including five starts—and lost a bid for his first shutout in nearly two years when Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne scored with 1:47 left in the third period.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” Emery said. “You never know how things are going to go. If you expect something and you’re not willing to work for it, you usually don’t get it.
“So it’s one game at a time. Every time I go in there, I try to do my best.”
Crawford hasn’t played since a start on Dec. 5 against Phoenix when he was pulled early in the second period after allowing three goals on 16 shots.
On the flip side, Emery seems to be getting better every game.
“He’s getting more comfortable, playing more consistent games,” Mayers said. “He’s regaining his form. You can see the inner confidence in him.
“The team’s playing well in front of him right now, so we just want to keep rolling.”
Sharp extended his point streak to eight games, a span in which he has seven goals and five assists.
Jonas Hiller made 20 saves for the Ducks, who are 2-4-1 under new coach Bruce Boudreau and 14th in the 15-team Western Conference.
Emery wasn’t heavily tested by the Ducks, who generated little offence in their first stop on a five-game road trip. Anaheim won’t play at home again until Dec. 29.
The Ducks didn’t sustain pressure against Chicago or create traffic in front of Emery. They fired wide on many first attempts.
“The net is four-by-six (feet),” Boudreau said. “I’m assuming they’re trying to pick like two-inch circles instead of shooting at the net, going to the net, and getting a rebound.
“When you have trouble scoring, you can’t shoot at minute, little areas.”
The Ducks weren’t planting themselves in prime scoring areas, let alone fighting to stay there.
“Other than the goal that we scored, we really didn’t have guys behind their defence,” Anaheim forward Bobby Ryan said. “They were doing a good job out in the slot, making sure Razor (Emery) saw the puck all night.”
Emery hasn’t had a shutout since Feb 1, 2010, while with Philadelphia. In April 2010, he underwent hip surgery that nearly ended his career.
Emery, who came back to lead Anaheim into the playoffs last spring, faced his old team for the first time since signing as a free agent with Chicago just before the start of this season.
“He did an unbelievable job in a tough situation (last season) with Hillsie (Hiller) being out,” Ryan said. “He just went out and played and really made quite a run for us and did great things in the playoffs.
“It’s nice to see him find a home,” Ryan added. “Of course he’s just beaten us, but he certainly was a well-respected guy in the room.”
Mayers scored the only goal of the first period 6:37 in when he surprised Hiller with a backhanded attempt from the right side of the net. Mayers lofted the puck from a sharp angle, and it struck Hiller’s arm and found its way into the net.
Hossa made it 2-0 just 1:07 into the second when he was left open in the slot. Sharp slid the puck to Hossa, who swept a backhanded shot between Hiller’s pads.
Bolland’s power-play goal with 2:51 left in the second made it 3-0. Defenceman Nick Leddy carried the puck deep into the Anaheim zone along the left wing boards, then dished to Bolland, who was open in the high slot. Bolland fired the puck through traffic and past Hiller.
Sharp made it 4-0 midway through the third with his 17th of theseason. He beat Hiller with a high shot from the slot after slipping through a pack of defenders.
Selanne wrecked Emery’s shutout bid when he was left alone at the right side of the net and scored off a cross-crease pass from Niklas Hagman.
NOTES: Emery improved to 8-1-2 this season. … Anaheim C Saku Koivu missed his third game because of a groin injury. Chicago LW Dan Carcillo sat out because of an undisclosed upper body injury. Both players are day-to-day.