On his 32nd birthday, Patrick Sharp recorded a hat trick as the Blackhawks skated circles around the visiting Colorado Avalanche.
By the end of the first period, Colorado coach Patrick Roy may have wanted to put a ring in each ear to subdue the goal horn at the United Center after the long Christmas break.
Sharp’s first goal came at 12:27 (yes, the date) in the first period from off a pretty feed from Duncan Keith.Jonathan Toews broke up the scoring – and got himself out of a scoring drought – with his 14th at 18:03 after a nice play by Marian Hossa created a rebound opportunity.
Sharp scored his second, this time on the power play, only 75 seconds after Toews’ goal. At the end of the first period, the Hawks were up 3-0 and had allowed only five Colorado shots to get to their netminder.
The second period opened as the first one concluded: with Sharp scoring. He scored his third only 69 seconds of game time after his second, and only 27 seconds into the middle frame. According to the Hawks, Sharp became the first player in team history to record a hat trick on his birthday on Friday night.
For good measure, Sharp made a spectacular defensive play at around eight minutes into the second, eliminating a scoring chance and setting up Toews for a 2-on-1 breakaway that Chicago’s captain deposited past Jean-Sebastian Giguere for his second of the night.
Antti Raanta allowed Colorado’s first goal – scored by Paul Stastny – on the Avs’ ninth shot of the game less than one minute after Toews’ second goal.
Patrick Kane made a Patrick Kane play at 13:30 to set up Michal Handzus for his fourth goal of the season, extending the Hawks lead to 6-1 in the middle stages of the second period. Kris Versteeg added his eighth goal of the season as the Hawks took a 7-1 lead to the dressing rooms.
Through 40 minutes, the Hawks out-shot the Avs 24-12, with Raanta making a few very impressive saves while his counterpart played the role of sieve.
Giguere was relieved at the start of the third period, replaced by Semyon Varlamov.
Players all over the roster had big statistical nights. Sharp and Toews had four-point nights, Keith had three assists, Niklas Hjalmarsson had two apples, and Handzus and Versteeg had two points (one goal, one assist) each. Brent Seabrook and Hossa also had assists in the game.
Kane’s assist extended his personal point streak – that started in November.
Gabriel Landeskog closed the scoring, pulling Colorado to within 7-2 at 7:37 into the third period.
Michal Rozsival was called for a delay of game minor penalty for an equipment violation with less than two minutes remaining in a 7-2 game… because the officials hadn’t embarrassed themselves in the game. The Hawks successfully killed both of their penalties in the game.
Raanta faced five shots in the third period for a total of 18 against in the game, allowing only two goals. Varlamov was perfect against 13 shots in the third for Colorado.
With his two assists on Friday night, Hjalmarsson tied his career-high of 17 points in a season – in Game 40. He last hit that mark with two goals and 15 assists in 77 games during the 2009-10 campaign.
The Hawks are 10-1-1 in the second half of back-to-backs, and will put that mark on the line in St. Louis on Saturday.