Friday, November 25, 2011
Q's switch gives Hawks, Sharp a boost
By Jesse Rogers
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville downplayed the subtle change he made going into the third period but switching Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp on the top two lines produced instant results for Sharp.
Jonathan Toews had a career-high five points against the Ducks on Friday.
“It was just one of those games where it seemed the puck was coming to me in scoring areas,” Sharp said of his hat trick in a 6-5 win against Anaheim on Friday. “Joel mixed the lines up there a little bit and that gave us a boost.”
For most of the first 23 games wherever Hossa lined up those around him produced. But in the third period, Sharp, Toews and Viktor Stalberg were the difference makers. The three combined for eight points in the final 20 minutes alone. Toews had four in the third and five overall.
“You’re not keeping count when you’re out there on the ice,” Toews said. “You just know you’re down one goal now have to go get another one.”
They got another one and another one after that. Three in the opening 3:33 of the third.
“We had a real strong period as a line there. We get two goals on our first shift and a third one on our second one,” Stalberg said.
Stalberg had two secondary assists on the first two goals, fore checking at his best.
“When I play with those guys I want to keep playing the same way I play with Hossa," Stalberg said. "I have to get in there first and make little plays.”
The trio played great and the Hawks won. Toews summed it up best in describing one goal but it fits for the whole period.
“Sometimes when you overwhelm them with pressure they turn the puck over down low,” he said.
The threesome overwhelmed the Ducks in a memorable final 20 minutes. As for Quenneville’s thoughts on putting the trio together, based on the score: “Was easy to make a change,” he said.
The goals came just as easy.
Toews’ five points were a career high. Despite the big afternoon for the Hawks captain, Toews was only voted No. 3 star of the game. Patrick sharp was No.1 while Bobby Ryan was No. 2. Ryan scored twice for Anaheim.
Sharp’s hat trick was the second of his career and first since 2007.
Brent Seabrook returned to the lineup after missing four games with a leg injury. Seabrook played 21:27 and was credited with three hits and a plus-2 rating. “It felt good to just get on the ice,” Seabrook said. “Joking, laughing around; the guys were giving me crap the last couple days. It’s just good to be back.”
Hawks outshot Anaheim 42-28 for the game and 33 to 16 in final 40 minutes.
The Hawks won 56 percent of their face-offs. Marcus Kruger was 8 for 8 in the circle.
“We have to feel like we’re over the hump but we have to carry that effort over to tomorrow’s game as well.” -- Toews, heading into the road trip finale against the Los Angeles Kings.