Chicago Blackhawks erupt for easy win over Ottawa

Richard Panik scored a goal. The power play connected — four times!

Patrick Kane dished out a career-high 4 assists. And Brent Seabrook was a healthy scratch.

Chicago Blackhawks fans might want to see if the sun still sets in the West because the fact that all of that happened Tuesday night in Ottawa almost defies explanation.

Believe it or not, it’s all true, and the Hawks — fresh off an 8-2 victory over the Senators — are 4-1-1 in their last six games. Since Joel Quenneville took over as coach in 2008-09, this was the fourth time the Hawks registered 8 or more goals in a game.

“It was arguably as good of a win as we’ve had all year,” Quenneville told reporters.

Panik was a healthy scratch in five of the last 11 games but seems to have found a home on the fourth line with Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma. He ripped home a shot with 1:09 left in the first period to open the scoring. It was his first goal since the ninth game of the season.

“(The coaches want me to) play my style, play the body more and protect the puck,” Panik told NBC Sports Chicago. “I think I just got away (from that) in the middle of the season. Now I’m trying to get back on the track and do those things.”

The Hawks (21-15-6) went up 4-0 on goals by Patrick Sharp, Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews over a 4½-minute span in the second period. Ottawa made things interesting by scoring the next 2 goals, but Schmaltz and Jan Rutta potted back-to-back power-play goals with 2:27 and 53 seconds left in the second to make it 6-2.

Toews and Kane closed out the scoring with third-period goals. Toews (14 goals) has 9 of his 31 points in the last five games. Kane (18 goals, 45 points) had a career-high 5 points. He also was the alternate captain with Seabrook sitting out.

Just seconds before Kane made it 8-2, Schmaltz missed notching a hat trick by inches when his shot hit between the crossbar and the post.

Said Schmaltz: “I thought Kaner was going to give it back to me, but he already gave it to me like four times in a row. So he decided to put it in himself. We’ll take it.”

The Hawks, who went 4-for-6 on the power play, were 3-for-33 with the extra man in the previous 12 games.

“Some really nice plays and some finish,” Quenneville said. “That’s a real positive sign because that’s the one area we’ve been looking to capture all year long. If we can get that going, that can really ignite our team game.”

Anton Forsberg made 25 saves and posted back-to-back victories for the first time and improved to 3-5-3.

Craig Anderson, a Barrington High School grad, was pulled after stopping just 22 of 26 shots.

The Hawks will try to stay hot with two critical games coming up at the United Center against Minnesota on Wednesday and Winnipeg on Friday.

• Follow John on Twitter @johndietzdh

Source: Sports

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