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Hossa scores in fourth straight, Blackhawks top Devils

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa led the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-1 comeback win against the New Jersey Devils at United Center on Friday, and then was asked if he had ever been on as good of a scoring run as he is right now.

Hossa responded by saying maybe in Portland when he was playing in juniors.

If so, that would have been nearly two decades ago for the Portland WinterHawks of the Canadian Hockey Leagues's Western Hockey League. That's how well things have gone for Hossa in the past six days.

After struggling to score goals through the season's first 52 games, he has seven goals in the past four games, two each in three games before defeating the Devils.

"[Hossa is] on fire," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's got it going. He's got that touch. When he scored that first goal tonight, it was almost like the [game-tying goal] the other night [against the Vancouver Canucks]. Pucks are going in for him, so keep putting it at the net."

Hossa's goal Friday tied the game 1-1 at 1:27 of the third on a power play. Less than three minutes later, his rush attempt led to a goal off the rebound by captain Jonathan Toews that made it 2-1 at 4:10, putting the Blackhawks (34-18-4) ahead for good.

Forward Kris Versteeg scored into an empty net at 19:16.

"He's been working for this all year," Toews said. "I think as a line, especially, we're creating a lot. I think [Hossa] has been putting some pressure on himself, which is unfair. Everyone knows how good he plays all over the rink, and I just don’t think people realize the offense he's creating, especially when it doesn't go in. So, it's nice to see him filling it the way he has this week."

After losing the first two games in overtime of an eight-game homestand, the Blackhawks won in regulation with another late push.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made big stops in the third against New Jersey forwards Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias, who was playing in his 1,200ths NHL game. Crawford finished with 25 saves.

Cory Schneider made 32 saves for the Devils, who have lost three straight games and play at the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

"They're one of those teams that, you see it almost every game, if they're down, they find a way," Schneider said. "They find a way to get back in it. Wish I hadn't given up that one so early on the power play maybe, but they kept coming. It's disappointing to let that one slip away. You're not getting any points."

Schneider made a pad save against a Hossa rush at 1:08 of the first period and Blackhawks rookie forward Ryan Hartman, from the Chicago suburb of West Dundee, Ill., got the crowd fired up on his first NHL shift with a big hit on Dainius Zubrus a few seconds after going over the boards that sent Zubrus’ helmet flying and held the puck in the offensive zone.

The Devils (21-25-9) withstood the early push and got the game's first goal. Defenseman Peter Harrold scored at 15:30 of the first for his second goal of the season and first in 23 games. Harrold set up at the right point and took a shot off a pass from behind the net by center Scott Gomez.

The puck hit Crawford's pad and skipped off the right post into the net. Toews hit the post with a shot 44 seconds earlier during a power play.

"I was pretty dialed in [in the third], but I felt better as the game went on," Crawford said. "I felt like maybe in the first I was kind of moving the opposite way of the play a couple times and I wasn’t able to get out to where I wanted to be. I just felt better as the game wore on and there was more action."

Neither team scored in the second, but Chicago had a couple of power plays and forced Schneider to make saves to preserve New Jersey's lead. The second Blackhawks power play, called at 19:56 on forward Michael Ryder for interference, led to Hossa’s game-tying goal to start the third.

"It’s really important [to get a win]," Hossa said. "We've got a really tight division and every point is huge for us. We know our game is not consistent for 60 minutes, the way we want it to be, but I think it's getting better and (we're) getting everybody on the board. That’s good."

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