Patrick Sharp continued to put on an offensive show and the Blackhawks escaped New Jersey with a 5-3 victory on Friday night.
Sharp became the first Blackhawks player to score more than once against Martin Brodeur, netting his 23rd of the year in the second period and his 24th during a flurry that blew the game open at the beginning of the third period.
The score was tied after 20 and 40 minutes, with the Hawks and Devils posting matching zeroes after one and taking a 1-1 tie to the dressing rooms after the second period. But the Blackhawks scored three times in the first 5:34 of the final period.
Brandon Saad was credited with his 15th goal of the season 90 seconds into the third period. Patrick Kane flipped the puck on net, and it appeared to be kicked in by Marek Zidlicky. Kane was initially credited with the tally, but it was changed to Saad later in the period.
Only 74 seconds after Saad’s goal gave the Hawks the lead, Sharp scored his second of the night from a ridiculous angle. Marian Hossa added his 15th of the season less than three minutes later and the Hawks had what appeared to be a commanding 4-1 lead.
But two goals by Zidlicky brought the Devils back to within 4-3 with less than seven minutes later. Zidlicky’s second goal of the night came on a power play; the Hawks had successfully killed three New Jersey power plays before that goal.
Sharp scored his third goal of the game and second of the final period on a breakaway with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. It was Sharp’s 25th goal of the season and 214th in the Chicago sweater, passing Al Secord for 15th in team history.
Duncan Keith collected three assists in the third period while Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews had two assists each in the game, while Kane was given the primary assist on Saad’s goal.
Canada will announce their roster for the Winter Olympics on Tuesday, and Sharp is now the leading Canadian-born goal scorer in the NHL. He was also one of four Blackhawks players to block two shots against the Devils, and was credited with one hit and one takeaway as well.
Antti Raanta, who was named the co-Rookie of the Month by the NHL earlier on Friday, made 23 saves to earn his 11th victory of the year. By starting the second night of back-to-back, it appears Raanta has won the back-up job on the Blackhawks roster and Jason LaBarbera will head to Rockford when the Hawks are comfortable Crawford is 100 percent.
Bryan Bickell continues to be a work-in-progress since returning from a knee injury, skating a team-low 10 shifts and only 8:16 on Friday night. Bickell was credited with a team-high three hits, however.
Kris Versteeg was bumped off the second line by coach Joel Quenneville early and finished the night the only other Hawks player to skate less than 10 minutes in the game, finishing with only 9:42 on the ice.
Sheldon Brookbank had a bad game, and Marcus Kruger’s performance left a lot to be desired. Kruger spent four minutes in the penalty box, while Brookbank looked lost for most of the night.
The Hawks return to the United Center to face the Sharks on Sunday night.