Blackhawks blank Isles in front of '61 champs
For the past couple of days, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has emphasized the need for a quicker pace early in games, hoping it would carry over for the rest of the night.
He got exactly what he was looking for on Sunday.
Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane scored in Chicago's four-goal second period, leading the Blackhawks to a 5-0 victory over the road-weary New York Islanders.
"We haven't played this type of game for a long time," Hossa said. "We don't have to worry about the score. We were dominating right from the beginning and I think we can build on this win."
Hossa also had two assists and Patrick Sharp, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Kane each finished with a goal and an assist as Chicago had its biggest offensive output since a 7-5 loss at Colorado on Dec. 13. Corey Crawford made 29 saves in his first shutout since March 5, 2008, against Anaheim.
"The start there, that set us up for the whole night," Quenneville said.
The Blackhawks snapped a six-game losing streak against New York with their first victory over the Islanders since a 3-2 road win on Dec. 10, 2002.
New York completed its longest trip of the season — an 11-day itinerary that also included stops in Detroit, Calgary, Edmonton and Colorado — with a 3-2-0 record. The Islanders were coming off a difficult 4-3 overtime victory over the Avalanche and looked tired in their last game before returning home.
"We talked about trying to get the crowd out of game," interim coach Jack Capuano said. "Play a simple road game, eliminate our turnovers, get pucks deep, establish our forecheck. We did none of that."
Chicago honored its 1961 Stanley Cup championship team before the game, with team ambassadors Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita receiving two of the loudest ovations from the sellout crowd. That was the franchise's last title before the Blackhawks beat Philadelphia in six games to win the Cup last year.
"That was great, you know, see the guys in the uniforms with the big smiles coming off the ice," Hossa said.
Following the rousing pregame ceremony, the Blackhawks put together one of their best starts at home this season.
Sharp picked up his team-leading 25th goal and second in as many games as the Blackhawks outshot the Islanders 16-8 in the first. He had 25 goals all of last season.
Chicago turned up the pressure in the second, with Hossa taking a pass from Tomas Kopecky and converting a wrister to make it 2-0 just 2:10 into the period. It was Hossa's 10th goal of the season and just his second in eight games since returning from a lower body injury.
"For the first time in a while, we got a couple goals there early in the game," Sharp said. "It kind of sets the tone for what we want to do as a team."
Kane scored his 13th goal five minutes later, completing a 3-on-2, and Dave Bolland and Hjalmarsson finished the scoring in the second. Bolland beat Nathan Lawson with a one-timer from the left circle with 3:36 left and Hjalmarsson's shot in the final minute went off the post and in.
Hossa set up each of the last two goals as Chicago matched its highest scoring period of the season. The Blackhawks also scored four in the second in a 7-1 victory at Vancouver on Nov. 20.
Lawson finished with 40 stops for the Islanders, who dropped to 8-3-1 in their last 12 games and 9-11-3 under Capuano.
I'm just very disappointed in my effort tonight," Lawson said. "I wish I could have some of those goals back, but you just got to move on, get back to work tomorrow and try to improve."
Crawford made a couple of great saves on the way to his second career shutout. He stopped Michael Grabner on a breakaway 7½ minutes into the first and made a nice pad save on Josh Bailey in the third.
"I had to make a couple saves but our guys played well tonight, really well," Crawford said.