The Blackhawks were staring at their fourth straight loss and an abysmal road trip that threatened to get worse before Patrick Sharp and captain Jonathan Toews turned it around in just more than 3 1/2 minutes of the third period.
Sharp notched the score-tying and go-ahead goals in a two-minute span in the third period to complete his second career hat trick and Toews got the game-winner as Chicago stormed back to a 6-5 victory against the freefalling Anaheim Ducks on Friday afternoon.
Chicago erased a 4-2 third-period deficit and snapped a three-game losing streak. Instead of going into Saturday's road trip finale with a 1-4-0 record on its six-game annual circus trip, the Blackhawks are 2-3-0 with a shot at finishing .500.
"It's big," Sharp said of the comeback. "We talked going into the third period that it was going to feel good battling back and clawing to get back into the game. Good teams, they don't change the way they play, whether it's 4-0 for or against. Big win for us."
Chicago wasn't really feeling down about its last loss because it played well in San Jose but couldn't penetrate goalie Antti Niemi in a 1-0 loss on Wednesday.
Friday wasn't really the ideal blueprint for a bounce back, though. The Blackhawks fell into an early 3-1 hole and trailed 4-2 after two periods before coming back on behind Sharp and Toews, who had a career-best five-point game with two goals and three assists.
"Their line came out and absolutely firing in the third and had energy," Anaheim forward Bobby Ryan said. "They dominated the third period."
Toews scored at 1:04 of the third, Sharp tied the game at 4-4 28 seconds later when he one-timed Toews' pass from behind the goal line after Toews took the puck from Ryan Getzlaf behind the net. Sharp completed the hat trick and put the Hawks ahead with a quick wrist shot through traffic from the left circle at 3:33 after Toews won a faceoff.
"It was just one of those games where the puck was coming to me in the scoring areas," Sharp said. "I think (coach) Joel (Quenneville) mixed the lines up a little bit there and that gave us a boost. The puck was just going in. Sometimes when you get one early, you get a good feeling the rest of the game. We were able to get a bunch."
Toews was credited with his first goal when Duncan Keith's point shot hit his skate and the left post before deflecting into the net. His second, at 9:22 of the third, proved to be the winner when Corey Perry scored in the final seconds.
Toews' play on Getzlaf for Chicago's fourth goal showed one captain taking control of the game from another.
"We've been talking about getting pucks deep off the rush and trying to back off other team's D-men, and we did that going in on the rush," Toews said.
"Instead of trying to do too much, (Viktor Stalberg) was in hard on the check. Sometimes when you overwhelm them with pressure they turn the puck over down low. We were able to do that behind the net. Sharpie was pretty vocal in letting me know where he was."
Said Getzlaf, "I tried to make that play off the wall and it kind of jumped my stick for a second. He just grabbed it real quick. It's my responsibility to be a little harder on that puck and not let that happen."
Anaheim appeared ready for victory when Ryan staked the Ducks to a 4-2 lead with the only goal of the second period, but came away with its winless streak extended to six games. Anaheim is 2-10-4 in its past 16 games growing concerns about a lack of confidence and a penchant for finding ways to lose.
"We came out in the third and it was two (goals) within, what, a minute?" Ryan said. "You could almost feel the tempo change on the bench and guys got down. That's a sign of a team that's been accepting it for a little while.
"Two goals within a minute span, both on our line, it's heartbreaking. If you could put your finger on it, it would be easier to get out of it."
Goalie Jonas Hiller literally couldn't find the words to explain their struggles.
"(I'm) speechless," Hiller said. "It seems like we're almost afraid to (win)."
Hiller acknowledged that changes might be coming if the losing continues.
"I don't think management's willing to just accept what we're doing right now," Hiller said. "We can't get it together right now. Management wants to give us the best chance and it doesn't look like we can figure it out how to play better right now. I think we showed a pretty solid first. I thought we had a lot of emotion, a lot of things going our way and then suddenly we stopped playing the body, we stopped playing hard. We just let them back in the game."
Ryan punched in his own rebound 1:14 into the game after Perry crunched Niklas Hjalmarsson on the end boards and chipped the puck to him in a terrific shift by the Ducks' top line. Just 59 seconds later Cogliano found himself with Selanne's rebound in front of the net and swiped it in after getting several hacks at it for a 2-0 lead.
"If you leave a few guys open, they've got their heads up all the way and they are going to make you pay for it," Toews said.
"Again, we don't want to get down two goals, three goals, whatever it was, to a team like that anymore. We have to make sure we are smart early in games. It's a big win for us because of how things have been going lately. I feel like we are over the hump, but we've got to carry that into (Saturday's) game."
Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook returned to the lineup after he missed the past four games with a leg injury suffered against Edmonton on Nov. 13.
Anaheim tweaked the bottom of its lineup when it scratched fourth-line center Maxime Macenauer and dressed Matt Beleskey, who cleared waivers earlier this week.
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