<
>

Blackhawks full of joy going into break

12/24/2013

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks earned the right Monday to not have to think about hockey over the next three days.

The Blackhawks entered the NHL’s three-day holiday break with one of their most dominant performances of the season, defeating the New Jersey Devils 5-2 at the United Center.

The Blackhawks’ possession numbers speak for themselves. The Blackhawks had 65 total shots (37 on goal) to the Devils’ 32 total shots (12 on goal). The Devils didn’t have more than six shots on goal in any period, and Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp combined for more shots on goal (13) than them.

As cliché as it may sound, Christmas arrived early for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

“Very happy with the game,” Quenneville said. “I thought we did everything we were looking to do in the game. I liked our energy. I liked our thought process, the purpose of where we put pucks and scored goals by putting it at the net. PK was good. PP was really good. So we’re pleased.”

Quenneville was far from being the only one with a smile on his face.

“Everybody’s happy,” Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa said. “Coaches will have a beautiful Christmas, the same with the players. It’s just a good atmosphere. That was important to win this game.”

Sharp agreed.

“It feels good,” he said. “Big win in front of our crowd and with three days off it feels even better. We can kind of put our feet up and relax, enjoy our families and get ready for the two big games coming out of the break.”

Sharp played a large role in making that happen, too. He scored twice in the win. He and Patrick Kane have elevated their games in recent weeks. Sharp has 12 points over the last eight games, and Kane is on his second 12-game points streak of the season. Kane contributed a goal.

Kane was pleased with the victory and the Blackhawks’ play through 39 games with a 26-7-6 record, but he also understood what was still ahead of them after the break.

“I think we’re pretty satisfied with our start, but at the same time you don’t want to look too much ahead of that because we have some tough games ahead and some things to look forward to at the same time,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s a fun second half.”

The Blackhawks can worry about that in three days.