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Friday, December 27, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Hawks 7, Avalanche 2

By Scott Powers

CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 7-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on Friday.

How it happened: Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp celebrated his 32nd birthday by recording a hat trick. Sharp scored twice in the first period and tallied his third goal 27 seconds into the second period. Add in two Jonathan Toews goals, and the Blackhawks built a 5-0 lead in the second period. Michal Handzus and Kris Versteeg also scored in the second period for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane set up Handzus' goal and extended his points streak to a career-high 13 games. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith had three assists. Blackhawks rookie goaltender Antti Raanta made his eighth consecutive start and had 16 saves. Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere gave up all seven goals and was pulled before the third period for Semyon Varlamov.

What it means: The Blackhawks have been especially dominant their past two games. They held the New Jersey Devils to 12 shots on goal before the holiday break and were in complete control again against the Avalanche. The Blackhawks improved to 27-7-6 with 60 points. The Avalanche fell to 23-11-3 and are 4-5-3 in December. The Blackhawks lost to the Avalanche 5-1 in Colorado on Nov. 19. Kane has recorded points in 25 of the last 26 games and has had 39 points during that span.

Player of the game: Sharp recorded his third career hat trick. He also had an assist on one of Toews' goals. He has 16 points in the last nine games and has 21 goals and 19 assists on the season. He was also the first Blackhawks player to score a hat trick on his birthday.

Stat of the game: Sharp scored three goals on his first four shots.

What's next: The Blackhawks travel to play the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. The Blackhawks are 0-1-1 against the Blues this season.