Patrick Sharp picked up this second hat trick in five games, and Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad both scored goals as well as the Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the New Jersey Devils by a score of 5-3 on Friday night at Prudential Center.
Antti Raanta made 24 saves to run his record on the season to 11-1-3, and Duncan Keith racked up three assists as the Blackhawks ended their brief two game road trip with a great effort.
Although the game ended with a flurry of goals in the third period, it didn’t appear in the opening stages of the game that it would be a low-scoring affair. The Hawks did a nice job of dominating possession early in the game, and as a result they got two early power plays. They didn’t score on either one of them, but Sharp did ring a shot off the post on the rush, and the Devils were reeling just a few minutes into the contest.
After not getting a shot through the first 11 minutes of the contest, the Devils finally came alive in the late stages of the first period. They ended up outshooting the Blackhawks by a margin of 8-6 in the period, but Raanta was up to the task, sprawling all over the ice in an attempt to keep the game scoreless. Saad did turn the focus the other way in picking up a couple of quick chances in front of Martin Brodeur as the period neared an end, but the game was still 0-0 at the end of the first period.
The Blackhawks had to kill off a penalty early in the second period, and when they finished it off, they once again were able to capitalize on the ensuing momentum. After a big-time net crash, it was Jonathan Toews who made the steal of an attempted clear by the Devils, and Sharp grabbed a pass between the circles and fired the puck past Brodeur to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, the Devils were able to respond. Seeing that both Blackhawks defensemen were below the offensive goal line, Devils defenseman Andy Greene exploded up the ice, and after eluding both Patrick Kane and Michal Handzus, he was able to fake out Raanta with a deke and slid the puck into the net to tie things up at 1-1.
The Blackhawks spent most of the rest of the period reeling from that goal, but they were able to get to the second intermission with the score still 1-1. As the third got started, the Blackhawks looked like a new team. On a great drive to the net by the second line, Kane fired a pass towards the crease, and the puck ended up bouncing off of Saad’s skate, and then hit Marek Zidlicky and snuck past Brodeur to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
Just a short time later, the Blackhawks struck again. This time, it was Sharp doing the honors, as he grabbed the puck below the goal line and somehow bounced the puck off of Brodeur and put it in the back of the net and extended the Hawks lead to two. Hossa also got in on the fun a few minutes later, roofing a shot past Brodeur to put the Devils in a 4-1 hole.
After a failed clear a minute and a half later, the Devils showed that they weren’t willing to go down without a fight. Zidlicky got the puck in the slot off a rebound from an Andrei Loktionov shot, and flipped it past Raanta on the far side of the net to bring New Jersey back to within two. A late power play gave the Devils another chance, and it was Zidlicky again taking advantage of a whiffed clearing attempt by Brent Seabrook, blasting a puck past Raanta to bring the score to 4-3.
With just a minute and a half left in the game, the Devils’ hopes of coming back took a huge blow as Sharp got the puck in open ice. He brought it in on a breakaway, and when Brodeur’s sliding poke check attempt failed, Sharp deposited the puck into the empty net to give the Hawks a 5-3 edge that they held onto for the remainder of the game.
The Blackhawks won’t have much time to recover as they head back to the Windy City though, as the San Jose Sharks will be in town for a big tilt at the United Center on Sunday night.