|Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4), of Sweden, checks Anaheim Ducks right wing Andrew Gordon (41) during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)|
Sharp has hat trick, Blackhawks beat Ducks
ANAHEIM, Calif.—The Chicago Blackhawks began the third period with such fury, the Anaheim Ducks didn't know what hit them. And if they don't make the playoffs, the floundering Ducks will look back at this experience as "Black Friday" in more ways than one.
Patrick Sharp scored the tying and go-ahead goals in a 2:01 span early in the third to complete his second career hat trick, and the gritty Blackhawks rallied for a 6-5 victory.
"We were down early on, but we felt really good about the way we were playing and we were playing that team-first game," Sharp said. "Our offense hasn't been scoring goals like we did today in the third period, but the philosophy of the team game is there -- and that is the biggest thing. We stuck with it and we were able to get a win."
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had two goals and three assists, helping Chicago end a three-game skid and send the demoralized Ducks to their sixth straight loss. Dave Bolland also scored, and Duncan Keith and Viktor Stalberg each had two assists.
"It's a big win for us because of how things have been going lately," Toews said. "Over the last couple of games we've come up short, but we've worked hard. Today we were all over the place getting chances, and we knew the breaks would come. I feel like we are over the hump, but we've got to carry that into tomorrow's game."
Anaheim's Bobby Ryan scored twice to end an eight-game goal drought. Teemu Selanne had a power-play goal and an assist, and Andrew Cogliano and Corey Perry also scored. Jonas Hiller made 17 of his 28 saves in the second period before the Blackhawks drove him to the bench trailing 5-4 with 16:27 remaining.
"It was tough. We came out with the energy we wanted and got the lead, but we didn't finish the game the way we wanted," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "I'm very concerned. It's not something we're willing to accept around here. We've got to change the mentality at the start of every period, treat it like it's zero-zero and learn how to win those kind of games."
Trailing 4-2, the Blackhawks began their four-goal third-period spree just 1:04 after the intermission when Keith took a long slap shot that ricocheted off Toews' foot and hit the left post before eluding Hiller.
Moments later, Getzlaf overskated the puck behind his net and the forechecking Toews set up Sharp in front for the equalizer, causing Getzlaf to break his stick over the net in frustration.
"I went behind the net and tried to make the play off the wall, but the puck kind of jumped my stick for a second, and he just wrapped it in front real quick," Getzlaf said. "It's my responsibility to be a little harder on that puck and not let that happen."
The Blackhawks took their first lead just 1:01 later, as Sharp beat Hiller to the stick side with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle for his third goal of the game and ninth this season.
Dan Ellis replaced Hiller and gave up Toews' second goal and 12th of the campaign with 10:38 to play, putting Chicago ahead 6-4 while Saku Koivu was off for holding Marian Hossa. Toews had an easy tap-in after Ellis stopped Keith's wrist shot and let the puck trickle behind him into the crease.
"In the third period, it was like we froze and didn't want the puck," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "That leads to more defensive-zone play and more penalties -- totally undisciplined penalties at critical times, like Saku Koivu in the offensive zone. Right now we're finding ways to lose hockey games when we're in a prime position to win them. It's very frustrating and very confusing for everybody involved."
Trailing 2-0 on goals by Ryan and Cogliano in the first 2:13, Chicago got on the board at 6:09 of the opening period on Sharp's goal on the Blackhawks' first shot on net -- just 24 seconds after they killed off a holding penalty against Toews.
Selanne restored Anaheim's two-goal lead at 14:56 of the first on a power play. But Bolland narrowed the gap to 3-2 the next time Chicago had the man advantage, capitalizing on Francois Beauchemin's tripping penalty.
"We stopped playing the body, we stopped playing hard and let them back in the game," Hiller said. "It's tough to lose like that, when you give up three goals in the first few minutes of the third. I'm speechless. It seemed almost like we were afraid to lose. We came out of the second with the lead, but I don't think we had a really good period and gave them a lot of chances."
The Blackhawks outshot Anaheim 17-5 in the second -- not counting the short wrist shot by rookie Marcus Kruger that rang off the right post with 1:07 left in the period. But Ryan had the only goal, converting a pass from Luca Sbisa at the 8:41 mark.
"That's a dangerous team. And if you leave a few guys open, they are going to find plays and make you pay for it," Toews said. "We don't want to get down two goals to a team like that anymore. We have to make sure we are smart early in games."
Ryan was the best player on the ice for the Ducks despite the fact that he played with a bruised hip, a souvenir of Wednesday's 4-2 loss at Phoenix.
"There are certain situations where it just don't feel right," Ryan said. "The doctors have taken good care of me the past two days and I felt ready to play -- and it obviously showed. I mean, there was a little wear and tear on it through the game, but I was OK."
Notes: This was the fourth straight year that the Blackhawks played at Anaheim on the day after Thanksgiving. Chicago lost the first two 1-0 and 3-0, then beat the Ducks 4-1 last year... Getzlaf has gone 13 straight games without a goal, his longest drought in seven NHL seasons. ... Chicago D Brent Seabrook returned to the lineup after missing four games because of an injured left leg. It was the longest stretch he sat out since his 2005-06 rookie season, when he missed 13 straight because of a sprained left knee.