Less than one minute into the second period of the Blackhawks’ game against the Avalanche, Patrick Sharp scored his third goal of the Friday night matchup.
What a way to celebrate a 32nd birthday — three goals and an assist in a 7-2 win. The Blackhawks’ “Star of the Game,” Sharp called out to his parents, who attended the game. This was his third career hat trick.
Captain Jonathan Toews also had a four-point night, with two goals and two assists. Blackhawks’ teammate efforts to set Toews up the rest of the game were equally matched by Avalanche defense.
Sharp opened the game with a goal, assisted by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, about 7 minutes in. With just two minutes left in the first, Toews scored with a wrist shot. He was assisted by Marian Hossa and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Less than a minute later, Sharp scored on a too many men Power Play with a beauty of a slapshot. Toews and Keith got the helpers.
Only 27 seconds back onto fresh ice, Sharp tallied another, earning a hat trick and making the score 4-0. Toews and Hjalmarsson were credited with the assists.
Toews scored his second goal of the game, with Sharp’s assistance, after a rather uneventful eight minutes.
Now down 5-0, Paul Stastny backhanded one past Antti Raanta, with Gabriel Landeskog and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau assisting.
Michal Handzus (Patrick Kane, Kris Versteeg) would answer with a wrister a few minutes later, and Versteeg would score one with Handzus and Keith’s assistance at 17:48 in the second.
Landeskog scored the final goal of the game, at 7:37 in the third, helped by Parenteau.
The 7-2 victory displayed a sense of determination and confidence the team and its fans would like to see every game.
Nine Blackhawks recorded at least a point, with six having more than one.
Returning from a three-day holiday break, with league rules prohibiting travel, the Avalanche did not make it in time for morning skate Friday, while the Blackhawks were able to have a morning practice.
“It’s an unpredictable game (off that break); you don’t know how you’re going to play or how your opponent’s going to play. But I thought we were ready,” Coach Joel Quenneville said. “We seem to do the right things when we do get rest, and the guys handled it the right way. They looked good this morning, looked good in the meeting. The right approach: that’s what we were looking for. We have a good group of pros here.”
The three-day break worked to their benefit against Colorado, but will the back-to-back impact their performance Saturday against St. Louis — a notoriously physical team?
Raanta is expected to start again versus the Blues, though Corey Crawford, who has been out with a “lower body” injury practiced and traveled with the team.
Notably, Sharp leads the Hawks with 35 career points against the Blues — 12 goals and 23 assists.
In other news, with a hat trick already achieved, maybe Sharp’s birthday wishes involved Team Canada this year? It’s certainly worth consideration for the alternate captain who has 21 goals, 19 assists, and a plus-16 record so far this year. Sharp’s also made an impact defensively.
“In my book, that was solidified a long time ago. But he’s out to prove something and I don’t think there’s a guy who deserves it more than him right now,” Toews said. “He’s playing good two-way hockey and that’s a big reason why he has so many scoring chances. He has a lot of confidence right now.”