- Jesse Rogers, Chicago Cubs beat reporter
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How it happened: One of the Blackhawks’ best-played games of the season saw them dominate from start to finish. A power-play goal by Patrick Sharp -- his 25th -- got things rolling in the first period, but it was a four-goal explosion in the second that put the game away. Marian Hossa had three points in that period alone, while Patrick Kane continued his hot play with a goal and an assist. Niklas Hjalmarsson, who had four points all season coming into the contest, also tallied a goal and an assist. Corey Crawford earned his first shutout of the season, making big saves when called upon, maybe none better than when he sprawled to rob Josh Bailey in the third period. He had several other highlight-reel stops in making 29 saves.
What it means: Finally, a 60-minute effort after so many games of playing good hockey only in spurts. Sharp’s goal may have put him in the All-Star game, whose participants will be announced on Tuesday. Hossa and Kane are coming around, and that can only mean good things, as the stars were out for the Hawks in major fashion. Crawford’s confidence should take another leap with a stellar effort.
What’s next: The Hawks swept the weekend against some of the bottom feeders of the Eastern Conference. Now it’s back to the West to wrap up the homestand. Colorado visits the United Center on Wednesday.
Rapid Reaction: The Hawks played some of their best hockey of the year.