Patrick Sharp stayed red-hot with two more goals as the Blackhawks showed no sympathy for the Devils, sending New Jersey home for Christmas with a 5-2 loss in their stocking.
Sharp opened the scoring with his 17th goal of the season in the first period off a pretty pass from Marian Hossa. The shot was redirected off the glove of Devils defenseman Mark Fayne and past Cory Schneider.
New Jersey tied the game at one at 5:37 into the second as Stephen Gionta was the beneficiary of a John Merrill shot that ricocheted a couple of times before slipping past Antti Raanta. The tie was short-lived, however.
Patrick Kane scored his 22nd of the year, tipping in a Nick Leddy shot. Kris Versteeg worked hard on the forecheck to set up a good opportunity for Leddy, and Kane was rewarded for being in the right place at the right time.
After Brandon Saad made a strong play on the forecheck to win a puck battle, Bryan Bickell unleashed his best shot since returning from injury and scored his sixth of the season. That tally held up as the game-winning score for Chicago.
Michael Ryder added a second goal for the Devils 59 seconds into the third period, but the Hawks erased any questions with two more goals in the final frame. Sharp scored his 18th of the year on a breakaway off another gorgeous feed from Hossa, and Leddy scored a power play goal to close the books.
Sharp hit a post with just over 40 seconds remaining in regulation for what would have been a hat trick. Schneider came out to play a puck and had his pass attempt picked off by Sharp, who just missed having a few lids tossed on the ice.
Jonathan Toews, who has been slumping in the eyes of some, won 17 of 22 faceoffs and was credited with an assist in just over 20 minutes of ice time. Marcus Kruger won three of four a the dot and was strong on the one penalty kill the Hawks successfully negotiated in the game.
The performance in front of Raanta was outstanding, as the Devils were limited to only 12 shots on net. The Hawks were only credited with 11 blocked shots in the game, led by Kris Versteeg’s three. Leddy had a fantastic night as well. He skated 17:03 and was credited with an assist and his fifth goal of the season.
On the flip side, Schneider allowed five goals against 37 shots. Hossa, Saad and Brent Seabrook were credited with two assists each, and Versteeg and Duncan Keith were credited with one assist each in the victory.
In the dominant effort, coach Joel Quenneville was able to spread out the ice time before the holiday break. Only four Blackhawks – Keith, Seabrook, Toews and Sharp – skated over 20 minutes in the game, led by Keith’s 23:55 on the ice. Every Hawks skated played over 10 minutes in the game.