Held off the scoresheet in his return to Winnipeg last week, Jonathan Toews made up for it in the rematch against his hometown team.
Flying all night, the captain sparked the Blackhawks with an early goal and the defending Stanley Cup champs went on to throttle the Jets 4-1 in front of 21,122 fans Wednesday night at the United Center.
“I was lucky enough to get that chance early,” said Toews, who took a nice feed from Patrick Sharp, shifted the puck from his forehand to his backhand and tucked it past Jets goaltender Al Montoya to get the Hawks off and running. “It’s always nice to see a couple go in here and there. We had another good, collective effort.
In addition to Toews’ goal, Sharp had a goal and an assist, Patrick Kane and Brandon Pirri also scored and Duncan Keith added two assists to provide more than enough offense for goaltender Corey Crawford to earn the victory.
Chicago native Montoya suffered the loss as the Hawks drilled the Jets for the second time in five days to extend the defending Stanley Cup champions’ points streak to five games and improve to 10-2-4 on the season.
“It was good to keep pressing forward there,” Sharp said. “We’ve seen a few times this year we’ve had a two-goal lead only to give it up in the third period. The guys stayed focused and we were able to get a couple more.”
Late in the first period, Toews opened the scoring with his eighth goal of the season moments after nearly connecting with Kane on a terrific scoring opportunity that Montoya halted.
Kane was not to be denied as the winger notched his team-high ninth score after he carried the puck through the neutral zone, skated to the left circle and unleashed a rocket that sailed past Montoya in the waning ticks of the period. Kane’s linemate, Brandon Saad, cycled to the front of the net to congest traffic on the beleaguered goalie.
Ben Smith sprung Pirri on a breakaway and the rookie center picked his spot to rip a wrister into the top right-hand corner of the net late in the second.
The rout was on early in the third when Sharp snapped a shot over Montoya’s right shoulder and the Hawks had their fifth game in their last seven with four or more goals.
The only question the rest of the way was whether Crawford would earn his first shutout of the season and Devin Setoguchi answered that with a goal off a rebound.
Some comic relief occurred in the third period when the Hawks’ Brandon Bollig crunched the Jets’ Adam Pardy through the glass in the corner. As fans held the dislodged glass off them and a scrum ensued, a fan yanked Pardy’s helmet off and put it on.