Chicago Blackhawks' Corey Crawford, left, makes a save against Columbus Blue Jackets' Derek Dorsett during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 20, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Patrick Sharp scored two goals, Duncan Keith had four assists and Corey Crawford made 24 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on Tuesday night to sweep the season series.
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.
Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa each had a goal and an assist and Brent Seabrook also scored for Chicago, which has won four in a row.
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.
Chicago scored on both of its power-play opportunities and also hit five posts. Sharp was denied a third goal on a breakaway in the final seconds.
The Blackhawks dominated from the outset, scoring three times on their first six shots. The last two goals goaltender Steve Mason just missed.
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. Andrew 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.
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, although Columbus defenseman Aaron Johnson was skating past the crease, as the puck eluded Mason.
It could have been worse. A miscommunication between the Blue Jackets' defensive tandem led to Patrick Kane coasting in all alone on Mason in the last minute. Mason stopped him but never controlled the puck, looking back over his shoulder into the net. With the puck sitting in the crease and Andrew Brunette bearing down for an easy jam shot, the officials blew the play dead.
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.