Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Sports News

Sharp has 2 goals, Blackhawks rout Jackets 5-1

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[March 21, 2012]  COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Patrick Sharp scored two goals, Duncan Keith had four assists and Corey Crawford made 24 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on Tuesday night to sweep the season series.

HardwareThe Blackhawks, who started the night in sixth place in the West playoff race, outscored the Blue Jackets 31-10 in the six games. They won every game by at least three goals over Columbus, which has far and away the worst record in the NHL.

Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa each had a goal and an assist and Brent Seabrook also scored for Chicago, which has won four in a row.

Crawford maintained a shutout until Rick Nash tipped in a shot by Jack Johnson to get the Blue Jackets on the board with 7:29 left.

Chicago scored on both of its power-play opportunities and also hit five posts. Sharp was denied a third goal on a breakaway in the final seconds.

The Blackhawks dominated from the outset, scoring three times on their first six shots. The last two goals goaltender Steve Mason just missed.

Chicago opened the scoring 4:12 in when Bryan Bickell dug the puck out of the corner then skated past the Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger to toss a pass in front of the cage that hit off defenseman John Moore and went past a surprised Mason. Andrew Shaw, closest to the puck, was awarded the goal.

Just over 2 minutes later, Sharp was at the bottom of the left circle when he threw the puck on net. It somehow slipped between Mason and the near post.

The Blackhawks then made it 3-0 in a 4:10 span on the softest of goals. Seabrook was at the very corner of the blue line and the short boards, in front of the Blue Jackets bench, when he innocently flipped the puck 50 feet toward Mason. There were no Chicago players near the net, although Columbus defenseman Aaron Johnson was skating past the crease, as the puck eluded Mason.

[to top of second column]

It could have been worse. A miscommunication between the Blue Jackets' defensive tandem led to Patrick Kane coasting in all alone on Mason in the last minute. Mason stopped him but never controlled the puck, looking back over his shoulder into the net. With the puck sitting in the crease and Andrew Brunette bearing down for an easy jam shot, the officials blew the play dead.

After a scoreless second period, Sharp picked up his second on a one-timer from the right circle off a drop pass from Hossa on the power play. Hossa then made it 5-0 by crashing the net to score thanks to a centering pass from Shaw.

NOTES: Viktor Stalberg had eight goals and two assists in the six games against Columbus, while Keith (0-8-8), Jonathan Toews (3-4-7), Dave Bolland (5-2-7), Hossa (3-4-7), Seabrook (1-5-6), Sharp (4-2-6) each averaged at least a point a game vs. the Blue Jackets. ... Columbus was without front-line G Curtis Sanford (leg muscle tear) and D James Wisniewski (hit in the face by a puck). Sanford will likely miss the rest of the season. ... Sharp and Hossa extended their points streaks to six games, Stalberg and Seabrook to five games. ... Nash has eight consecutive seasons with at least 25 goal.

[Associated Press; By RUSTY MILLER]

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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