ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Chicago Blackhawks used some old-fashioned sharpshooting to break open a tie game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Patrick Sharp scored for the fourth time in five games to give Chicago the lead for good in a three-goal third period that carried the defending Stanley Cup champions to a 4-1 victory Friday. He also set up a short-handed goal by defenceman Duncan Keith that knotted the score in the second period.
Sharp has 14 goals in his first 24 games. Last season, he didn’t get his 14th goal until his 41st game.
“He’s gotten off to a really good start for us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s scored some big goals, and you could say that one was one of the bigger ones we’ve scored this season. It was a very timely goal, a great play and a great shot. He also made a great setup on the shortie as well.”
Defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson ended a 44-game goal drought, Troy Brouwer also scored, and Corey Crawford made 26 saves against an offence that generated 90 shots on net over the previous two games while losing both.
Chicago held the Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry-Bobby Ryan line to just seven shots on net.
“We know they have one of the best lines in the league, so we wanted to be good against them because they can be dangerous,” Keith said. “You give them a little bit of ice and they can do a lot with it. So getting on them was key today, and Corey was great. It seemed like he was squared to every puck and made every save look like an easy one. A lot of pucks were shot right into his belly because he was in good position.”
Dan Sexton scored on a power play for the Ducks, who have just 10 goals during a six-game losing streak that began Nov. 14 at Chicago with a 3-2 overtime defeat that snapped a six-game winning streak. Right wing Teemu Selanne sat out his second straight game because of a groin injury.
The Blackhawks had just finished killing off an Anaheim power play when Ducks defenceman Andy Sutton, playing in just his third game with Anaheim after missing the first 21 games of the season because of a broken right thumb, committed a costly turnover that resulted in the go-ahead goal.
The 12-year veteran carried the puck out from behind his own net and attempted a backhanded outlet pass to Nick Bonino—but put it right onto the stick of Sharp, who quickly beat Jonas Hiller high to the glove side.
“Obviously, there’s some rust involved when any player misses that amount of time,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “But he did make the mistake, and you don’t absolve the player making the mistake. We should have had people in position to at least support the player when he makes a mistake like that. There should be another line of defence there, but our other defenceman was behind the net.”
Hjalmarsson beat Hiller to the stick side with a screened shot from the left point with 14:04 remaining for his first goal since March 3. Brouwer added his fourth goal with 10:20 to play, beating Hiller to the glove side with a one-timer from the slot. At that point, Carlyle changed goalies.
In the first period, Sutton blocked a shot by Jack Skille and sent Dan Sexton on a breakaway, which Crawford stopped with his left leg about 13½ minutes in. But Sexton opened the scoring at the 16:49 mark, tipping Saku Koivu’s one-timer from the right point past Crawford’s glove for his first goal of the season.
“That’s a really solid team and they’ve got a great power play, especially at home,” Crawford said. “That’s one of the things we were focused on—not to give them too much on the power play.”
Hiller robbed Keith on a 17-foot wrist shot from the left of the net about 5½ minutes into the second period after a perfect cross-ice feed from Patrick Kane, but Keith tied it at 7:40 of the period with his fifth career short-handed goal. Keith, last season’s Norris Trophy winner, scored on a one-timer from the right circle after getting a cross-ice pass from Sharp.
“I liked our whole game,” Quenneville said. “We stayed with it, and obviously, scoring short-handed really got the momentum going in our favour.”
NOTES: Anaheim’s record against teams defending a Stanley Cup title is 9-26-2 with six ties. … Fourteen players who played at least one game for Chicago during its first championship season since 1960-61 are not on the current roster—although 17 still remain. Just five players are left from the Ducks’ 2007 Stanley Cup championship team—Selanne, Getzlaf, Perry, Todd Marchant and George Parros.