by Scott King
It was a scoring famine in the beginning of the season along with a bad power play and a horrid penalty kill, but the scrappy 2016-2017 Blackhawks found a way to sit on top of the league in December.
The Hawks are not only riding a five-game winning streak, but have scored 20 goals in that span.
Rookies, vets, everybody is finding the back of the net now. Once again, goals are the Blackhawks’ business and business is good.
Sunday night at the United Center it was the second of back-to-back games for Scott Darling and the Blackhawks. The first was a 6-4 victory over the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday.
Sunday, they took on the San Jose Sharks, who led the Pacific division heading into the game two points ahead of the Anaheim Ducks.
The Sharks drew first blood scoring at 1:13 into the second period. Joe Pavelski was credited with the goal. Duncan Keith answered back for the Hawks scoring his first goal of the season at 16:49 into the second period.
Artemi Panarin snagged an assist on the play. He’s currently riding a 5-game point streak in which he has 11 points. Sunday was also his first bobblehead night.
Ryan Hartman scored the Hawks’ go ahead goal at 6:59 into the third period. It was his sixth goal of the season.
Hartman believes the rookies getting to play valuable minutes since the beginning of the season helped them adjust to the NHL’s big stage.
“It helps,” Hartman said. “You find a groove, you find a momentum in the game. You’re able to really get your legs going, you’re not cold in certain points in the game. It helps us young guys out a lot, just to find that flow definitely helps.”
Fellow rookie Vinnie Hinostroza added to the lead scoring at 17:40. It was his second point of the night.
“He was coming out pretty far there, so I saw his five-hole wide open,” Hinostroza said. “I was shooting to score, but even if it didn’t go in, there was a good chance Hossa’s getting that rebound. I was just trying to slip it under the pad and score, and it went in.”
Patrick Kane scored on the empty net shortly after Hinostroza’s goal at 19:13 to make the final score 4-1 Blackhawks.
Put Me In, Coach
Darling told Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville he wasn’t fatigued from playing on Saturday and asked for the net again on Sunday.
“I feel great,” said the Lemont native. “I knew coming home and getting a good night’s sleep and not having a pregame skate you can kind of just sleep in and really catch up. I knew I’d get back up to the level I’d need to be to come and play tonight.”
Starting goalie Corey Crawford is still recovering from an appendectomy but is targeting a return to game action Friday vs. the Avalanche in Chicago.
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