On his 32nd birthday, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp gave the Hawks faithful a birthday present of his own: a four point night, including a hat trick. The Hawks would go on to win 7-2 over the struggling Colorado Avalanche.
Sharp highlighted a star-studded night offensively, which included eight players picking up at least one point and two players having four points (Sharp and Jonathan Toews). Patrick Kane also extended his point to a career-high 13 games with an assist on a Michal Handzus goal late in the second period.
But the game belonged to Sharp from puck drop and he fueled the entire Hawks team to produce another all-around great game. Rookie goaltender Antti Raanta deserves credit for a solid game as well. Raanta’s win moves him to 9-1-2 overall on the season after he made 16 saves on 18 shots. Raanta, as mentioned in previous posts, has continued to improve each night and looks to be something special in the future.
On the goaltender front, there was some positives news about injured goaltender Corey Crawford. Crawford worked with goalie coach Steve Weeks after practice on Friday and Coach Joel Quenneville said that Crawford is improving greatly, but won’t start against St. Louis.
The scoring didn’t start until a little after the halfway point of the first period when Sharp ripped a wrist shot from about halfway out to make the game 1-0. After Toews connected on a rebound off Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere to make it 2-0, the Hawks continued to press on the Avalanche when Sharp ripped another shot past Giguere to make the game 3-0 at the end of the first period.
Sharp cashed in on his hat trick when Hawks’ defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson shot the puck from the point and the puck rebounded off Giguere while rolling and Sharp settled it down and backhanded the puck into the net to put the United Center into a frenzy. Hats rained down and Sharp recorded his fourth career hat trick.
Some may say though, Sharp’s best moment of the game came when Avalanche forward Matt Duchane skated on a breakaway. Sharp skated quickly, came behind him and lifted his stick to prevent him from scoring. Sharp then gave Toews a laser pass cross-rink and Toews capitalized and scored on Giguere to make the game 5-0.
Handzus and Kris Versteeg finished off the scoring for the Hawks and after two goals by the Avalanche late in the second and third period to push the final tally to a 7-2 victory for the Blackhawks. The Hawks now sit in first place in the Western Conference and the whole league with 60 points.
The Hawks get right back in the action on Sunday night when they travel to St. Louis to faceoff against the St. Louis Blues. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on Fox Sports-Midwest and WGN.
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