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Chicago matches team mark with 8th straight win

NHL.com @NHL

Huge crowds. Big wins. In-check egos.

The Chicago Blackhawks are doing everything right in a breakthrough season.

On Friday night, Chicago matched the team record with its eighth straight victory, beating Philadelphia 5-1 in front of a franchise-record crowd of 22,712 - the Blackhawks' 16th straight sellout of the season.

"It's tough to find a weakness in our team right now," Patrick Sharp said after scoring his team-leading 19th goal of the season. "The best thing about these eight games is that our team's stayed pretty mellow the whole time. We're enjoying the ride, but we're not getting too far ahead of ourselves."

Andrew Ladd, Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg and Dave Bolland added goals, and Nikolai Khabibulin made 17 saves. The Blackhawks, 11-1-4 at home and 19-6-7 overall, also had eight-game winning streaks in December 1971 and January 1981.

"This team has lost only one game at home this year for a reason," Flyers coach John Stevens said about the Blackhawks. "I thought we were cheating all over the ice. We ended up taking too many penalties."

In other NHL games Friday night, it was: the New York Islanders 4, Toronto 1; Carolina 5, Atlanta 4; Pittsburgh 1, New Jersey 0; Washington 3, Buffalo 2; Nashville 3, Detroit 2; Tampa Bay 4, Florida 3 in a shootout; Edmonton 3, Vancouver 2; and Phoenix 2, Los Angeles 1.

In Chicago, the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead in the first 3 minutes.

Ladd beat Martin Biron on a rebound at 1:13, and Sharp scored at 2:35, lifting a hard wrist shot over Biron from the crease.

After outshooting Philadelphia 14-1 in the scoreless second period, Chicago broke the game open early in the third. Campbell and Versteeg scored on 5-on-3 power plays, and Bolland also scored in the first 6 minutes.

"We did a lot of smart things tonight," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Took shots, went to the net. The simpler we play, the better we are. This was one of our better games all year, in all aspects."

At Uniondale, N.Y., Bill Guerin scored twice to reach 400 goals, and Rick DiPietro made 28 saves in his return to help New York snap a 10-game losing streak.

Guerin became the 79th NHL player, and the eighth U.S.-born player, to score 400 goals. Kyle Okposo and Freddy Meyer also scored for the Islanders, who won for the first time since Nov. 29 to end an 0-9-1 slump. DiPietro assisted on Okposo's goal to break Billy Smith's franchise record for career points by a goalie with 14.

DiPietro missed 27 games following his second knee surgery in five months. Coming off surgery on his right knee in June, DiPietro appeared in three previous games this season, the last a one-period stint against Carolina on Oct. 25. He had arthroscopic surgery Oct. 31 to repair a torn meniscus, but the team wouldn't reveal which knee.

Lee Stempniak scored for Toronto.

At Atlanta, Eric Staal scored three goals in a 4:31 span of the third period for Carolina to overshadow Bryan Little's first career hat trick.

Staal's sixth career hat trick, and second in 17 games, helped Carolina win for the second time in three games and fourth in six.

Patrick Eaves and Chad LaRose also scored. Todd White scored for Atlanta.

At Newark, N.J., Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves for Pittsburgh's first shutout of the season, and Ruslan Fedotenko scored in the second period.

Fleury has 12 career shutouts. Scott Clemmensen stopped 18 shots for New Jersey, shut out 2-0 by Boston on Tuesday night and scoreless in seven regulation periods.

At Washington, Alex Ovechkin, Viktor Kozlov and Boyd Gordon scored goals, and Jose Theodore made 22 saves for Washington, an Eastern Conference-best 14-1-1 at home.

Ovechkin pushed the puck through Henrik Tallinder's legs just inside the blue line and fired a shot past Patrick Lalime while falling, giving the Capitals a 3-1 lead.

Thomas Vanek had his 25th goal for Buffalo, and Maxim Afinogenov also scored.

At Nashville, Tenn., defenseman Kevin Klein scored a power-play goal, and Vern Fiddler added a goal late in the second period for Nashville.

Greg Zanon also scored, Martin Erat had two assists, and Dan Ellis stopped 38 shots. Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson scored for Detroit.

At Sunrise, Fla., Ryan Malone beat backup goalie Craig Anderson with a wrist shot to give Tampa Bay the victory in the first game of a home-and-home series.

Adam Hall and Jussi Jokinen also scored in the shootout for Tampa Bay, and Cory Stillman and Nathan Horton countered for Florida.

Steve Eminger, Mark Recchi and Evgeny Artyukhin scored in regulation for the Lightning. Bryan McCabe scored the tying goal for Florida with 13.9 seconds left in regulation, and Keith Ballard and Stillman added goals.

At Vancouver, British Columbia, Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray scored on 5-on-3 power plays, and Dwayne Roloson made 26 saves for Edmonton.

Marc Pouliot also scored to help the Oilers take a 3-0 lead in the second period. Mason Raymond and Kyle Wellwood scored for Vancouver.

At Los Angeles, Peter Mueller ended a 21-game goal drought, Shane Doan scored on a power play, and Ilya Bryzgalov made 24 saves for Phoenix in his sixth straight victory over the Kings. Peter Harrold scored a power-play goal for Los Angeles.

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