CHI
45-26-11
CBJ
29-46-7

27 SOG
25 SOG

Blackhawks 5, Blue Jackets 1

Associated Press | Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 9:42 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Even without captain Jonathan Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks have been getting off to fast starts recently - which is helping them finish strong.

Patrick Sharp scored two goals, Duncan Keith had four assists and Corey Crawford made 24 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks built a big lead to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on Tuesday night to sweep the season series.

"It's great. It's awesome," Crawford said of the early support he received. "To be up 3-0 right off the bat is great. Hopefully we can maybe do that every game. What else can I say? You can't ask for more."

During a horrendous nine-game losing skid from Jan. 21 to Feb. 16, the Blackhawks had difficulty scoring much at all, let alone scoring early. Now they're jumping on teams and coasting in a four-game winning streak heading into a big home showdown against rival Vancouver on Wednesday night.

"The losing streak that we were on after the All-Star break helped us out more than it hurt us," Sharp said after collecting goals No. 29 and 30. "You never want to lose that many in a row, but it taught us a few lessons about playing the right way. The coaches have been preaching a certain style of play and now we've bought in."

The Blackhawks, who started the night in sixth place in the West playoff race, outscored the Blue Jackets 31-10 in the six games. They won every game by at least three goals over Columbus, which has far and away the worst record in the NHL.

So what is it about the Blackhawks?

"The ability to finish," interim Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "The thing that they can do is they can score often and they can score quickly. Over a span of 4 minutes we were looking uphill at a 3-0 game."

Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa each had a goal and an assist and Brent Seabrook also scored.

"We're feeling good right now," Keith said. "The one thing we've learned is we're not going to take anything for granted. We're playing better but we know there's still more there that we have to get better at. We're happy with our starts the last three games."

Crawford maintained a shutout until Rick Nash tipped in a shot by Jack Johnson to get the Blue Jackets on the board with 7:29 left.

The Blackhawks still do not have a shutout this season.

"It'd be nice once in a while," Crawford said, laughing. "Whatever. We're more worried about two points - but it'd be nice once in a while."

Chicago scored on both of its power-play opportunities and also hit five posts.

The Blackhawks, with Toews missing his 14th game in a row with concussion symptoms, dominated from the outset, scoring three times on their first six shots.

Chicago opened the scoring 4:12 in when Bryan Bickell dug the puck out of the corner then skated past the Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger to toss a pass in front of the cage that hit off defenseman John Moore and went past a surprised Mason. Shaw, closest to the puck, was awarded the goal.

Just over 2 minutes later, Sharp was at the bottom of the left circle when he threw the puck on net. It somehow slipped between Mason and the near post.

"They just found a hole through my arm there," Columbus goalie Steve Mason said.

The Blackhawks then made it 3-0 in a 4:10 span on the softest of goals. Seabrook was at the very corner of the blue line and the short boards, in front of the Blue Jackets bench, when he innocently flipped the puck 50 feet toward Mason. There were no Chicago players near the net, but the puck hit off of Columbus defenseman Aaron Johnson and by Mason.

"The pucks went in there," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a nice start, scoring first helped. We got some fortunate bounces around the net early. We did some good things in the game. And I thought (Crawford) was good in net, too."

It could have been worse. A quick whistle prevented another potential goal late in the period.

After a scoreless second period, Sharp picked up his second on a one-timer from the right circle off a drop pass from Hossa on the power play. Hossa then made it 5-0 by crashing the net to score thanks to a centering pass from Shaw.

Sharp was denied a third goal on a breakaway in the final seconds.

"It was nice of Joel to kind of throw me out there," Sharp said. "I got a lucky bounce. I got up some speed and was able to get to the open side but (Mason) made a nice save."

It was about the only thing that didn't go the Blackhawks' way.

Notes: Quenneville said Toews skated back in Chicago earlier on Tuesday. ... Columbus was without front-line G Curtis Sanford (leg muscle tear) and D James Wisniewski (hit in the face by a puck). Sanford will likely miss the rest of the season. ... Sharp and Hossa extended their points streaks to six games, Stalberg and Seabrook to five games. ... Nash has eight consecutive seasons with at least 25 goal.

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap .

1st2nd3rdT
CHI
CBJ
Scoring Summary
1st Period
04:12CHI Andrew Shaw (10) Wrist shot - ASST: Bryan Bickell (14), Duncan Keith (33) 1 - 0 CHI
06:17CHI Patrick Sharp (29) Wrist shot - ASST: Viktor Stalberg (20), Marcus Kruger (14) 2 - 0 CHI
08:22CHI Brent Seabrook (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Duncan Keith (34), Dave Bolland (15) 3 - 0 CHI
2nd Period
NONE
3rd Period
00:37CHI PPG - Patrick Sharp (30) Slapshot - ASST: Marian Hossa (44), Duncan Keith (35) 4 - 0 CHI
04:09CHI PPG - Marian Hossa (29) Wrist shot - ASST: Andrew Shaw (7), Duncan Keith (36) 5 - 0 CHI
12:31CBJ Rick Nash (25) Deflected shot - ASST: Jack Johnson (20), Aaron Johnson (11) 5 - 1 CHI
Three Stars of the Game
Duncan Keith
1st
Duncan Keith
D
G: 0Shots: 1
A: 4Hits: 0
PTS: 4PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 21:37
Patrick Sharp
2nd
Patrick Sharp
LW
G: 2Shots: 6
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 19:41
Andrew Shaw
3rd
Andrew Shaw
C
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 1Hits: 1
PTS: 2PIM: 2
+/-: 2TOI: 13:51
Penalty Summary
1st Period
02:34CBJ Jared Boll  Fighting (maj) against  Brandon Bollig
02:34CHI Brandon Bollig  Fighting (maj) against  Jared Boll
2nd Period
02:39CHI Andrew Brunette  Too many men/ice - bench
06:33CHI Andrew Shaw  Boarding against  Jack Johnson
18:53CBJ Derek Dorsett  Roughing against  Andrew Shaw
3rd Period
03:23CBJ Darryl Boyce  Boarding against  Nick Leddy
shots by period
PeriodCHICBJ
1st1011
2nd53
3rd1211
Total2725
Team Stats
CategoryCHICBJ
Power Plays2/20/2
Hits1038
Faceoff Wins2133
Giveaways41
Takeaways25
Blocked Shots1811
Penalty Minutes99
  • CHICAGO
  • COLUMBUS
#skatersPosGA+/-SPIMTOI
2D. KeithD0411021:37
4N. HjalmarssonD0011020:47
7B. SeabrookD1024024:27
8N. LeddyD0000013:47
10P. SharpL2016019:41
15A. BrunetteL00-10014:08
16M. KrugerC0111016:12
22J. MayersR0000012:20
25V. StalbergL0111015:51
27J. OduyaD0001023:13
29B. BickellL0120014:44
34D. OlsenD0001015:14
36D. BollandC0120016:53
52B. BolligL000457:32
65A. ShawC1122213:51
67M. FrolikR0000012:00
81M. HossaR11-13017:05
88P. KaneR00-12016:40
#GoaliesSvSASv%TOI
50C. Crawford2425.96060:00
#skatersPosGA+/-SPIMTOI
4J. MooreD00-30012:47
5A. JohnsonD01-11016:26
6N. NikitinD00-12024:10
7J. JohnsonD0112025:05
9C. GilliesC0000010:08
13C. AtkinsonR00-10015:36
15D. DorsettR0001217:20
16D. BrassardC00-22016:56
17M. LetestuC0006020:35
18R. UmbergerC00-22016:44
19R. JohansenC0001014:47
22V. ProspalL0000017:59
23B. LebdaD0002019:36
25R. RussellL0001014:23
40J. BollR0000511:12
43D. BoyceC000028:45
58D. SavardD0001019:46
61R. NashL10-14015:15
#GoaliesSvSASv%TOI
1S. Mason2227.81560:00