Blackhawks zoom past Jets
CHICAGO -- In one of their most solid efforts of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks made it look easy in a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night at the United Center.
"I thought (the Blackhawks' top line) had their best game tonight," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought they had the puck a lot, lot of zone time, lot of quality chances and some production, as well, to show for it. I thought they had the puck in direct plays, good motion, good rotation, good finish."
The mantra for the Blackhawks (10-2-4) easily could have been "better late than never," as they scored three of their four goals late in the first period (two tallies) and second period (one) to earn their fourth win in five games.
Chicago is now 7-1-3 in its last 11 games.
"I thought we had a good start," Quenneville said. "I thought (Winnipeg) started well, too, but I still thought we were ready to play right from the outset. I thought we had good jump in our game and had a good purpose as well. Real solid from start to finish."
Blackhawks captain and center Jonathan Toews and right winger Patrick Kane scored in the closing minutes of the first period. Rookie center Brandon Pirri gave Chicago a 3-0 lead with less than two minutes to play in the second.
"It was good motion, good rotation, good cycling (and a) good finish," Quenneville said.
Left winger Patrick Sharp added the Blackhawks' final goal four minutes into the third period.
"I thought tonight was a solid start and kind of sustained that pressure as the game went on," Toews said.
Winnipeg (6-9-2) dropped its third game in the past six and fell to 3-6-2 in its past 11 contests.
"We've given up nine goals in two games," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "Do we need to give up another four or five the next time to recognize this is what they can do? I understand we're not perfect, but those things hurt you. Your puck management has to be great."
The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead when Toews scored at 17:29 of the first period on a backhander past Winnipeg goalie Al Montoya. It was Toews' eighth goal of the season.
"It's always nice to see a couple go in here and there, and I think tonight we had another good collective effort," Toews said.
Kane scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season at 19:54 of the opening frame with a wrist shot to make it 2-0.
"That was old-fashioned Kaner right there, it was fun to watch," Toews said. "He was almost horsing around, just having fun and playing pond hockey. No one could take the puck from him. That's a pretty amazing skill."
Toews and Kane remain tied in overall points at 14 each.
At 18:02 of the second period, Pirri netted his third goal of the season.
Rather than wait until late in the third period, Sharp struck early with fours across the board: He scored Chicago's fourth goal and his fourth goal of the season at exactly four minutes into the final frame.
Winnipeg avoided a shutout when right winger Devin Setoguchi, appearing in his 400th career NHL game, scored his third goal of the season at 8:40 of the final period.
That was the only tarnish on yet another strong game by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, who stopped all but one of Winnipeg's 25 shots.
Montoya made 24 saves.
At 13:38 of the third period, Chicago left winger Brandon Bollig laid a hard check on Winnipeg defenseman Adam Pardy, completely knocking out the sideboard glass (though not shattering it).
Pardy was knocked almost halfway into the first row but wasn't injured. A fan took Pardy's helmet and put it on his own head, prompting security to retrieve the helmet and then eject the fan. Another fan was ejected for pouring a beer on Pardy.
NOTES: Attendance was 21,122, the smallest home crowd this season for Chicago. However, it still was a sellout, making it 237 straight home sellouts for the Blackhawks. ... Chicago is now 11-3-0 against the Jets, including their previous time as the Atlanta Thrashers. ... Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane is one away from 50 power-play goals in his career, while RW Patrick Sharp is two away and C Jonathan Toews is three away. ... Before Wednesday, all six of Winnipeg's road games were decided by one goal. The Jets are now 2-4-1 away from home. ... The next game will be the 550th of Jets LW Andrew Ladd's NHL career. ... Former Blackhawks RW Michael Frolik, who was traded to Winnipeg for a pair of draft picks on June 30, is off to a successful start with the Jets. He has three goals and six assists. ... The Jets' Dustin Byfuglien leads all NHL defensemen with 56 shots. ... The Jets have struggled with injuries, with four players on injured reserve and 37 man-games lost already.