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Sharp's four assists lead Blackhawks past Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Patrick Sharp did what he does best, set the table for his teammates.

Sharp assisted on four goals Saturday night as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Dallas Stars 5-2 at American Airlines Center.

"Tonight he was unbelievable in finding the passes," Chicago forward Marian Hossa said. "He got four [assists], I think. He's poised with the puck. He can find you. He can shoot the puck extremely well. Right now he's hot and I think the whole line is playing well."

Chicago also got a goal and an assist from Jonathan Toews, two goals from Hossa, and a 31-save performance from Corey Crawford in the victory, which snapped Dallas' three-game winning streak. Sharp assisted on goals by Hossa in the first period, by Toews and Patrick Kane in the second period and a second by Hossa late in the third.

Hossa put the game away with 1:41 remaining by beating goaltender Kari Lehtonen on a breakaway to give Chicago a 4-2 lead. The Blackhawks added a shorthanded empty-netter by defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with 1:07 to play.

"They had a good night again," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of his top line. "Production shows, reflective of how they played. Some nights they don't go in for you, but last couple of games both the chances and the quality of chances but there's some finish there as well."

Dallas got goals from Cody Eakin and Tyler Seguin and 26 saves by Lehtonen but lost in its first home game after going 3-0-0 on a road trip.

However, Stars coach Lindy Ruff did find some positives.

"I thought we did a lot of great things in the game. I thought we had more puck possession. I thought we outskated them. I thought a lot of times [we] outworked them," Ruff said. "They were a little smarter than us."

The Stars were unable to capitalize on two early power plays, but the Stars took the lead 6:10 into the game when Eakin slipped a rebound inside the far post. The goal came two seconds after the second penalty, a tripping call on Hjalmarsson, expired. Crawford stopped shots by Trevor Daley and Shawn Horcoff, but Eakin crashed the net and knocked home his fifth goal of the season.

Crawford kept it 1-0 with a great pad stop on a one-timer by Ray Whitney at 14:02 during Dallas' third power play of the opening period.

Chicago tied it at 16:51 when Hossa scored his seventh on a tap-in at the far post. Sharp began the sequence by sending the puck around the boards behind the Dallas goal, where it was corralled by Toews. He skated around the left side of the net and spotted an unmarked Hossa streaking toward the far post and hit him with a perfectly executed pass for an easy goal.

"He had some good shifts, goes into the puck area," Quenneville said of Toews' outstanding work from behind the net. "In tight areas, he's a horse of a player, especially in that area."

Dallas regained the lead 6:54 into the middle period when Seguin took a pass from Jamie Benn and beat Crawford top shelf from the right edge of the right circle with a wrist shot for his seventh of the season.

Chicago killed off another Dallas power play after Kane was called for delay of game at 7:39 after shooting the puck over the boards. He redeemed himself by starting the sequence that led to Toews' equalizer at 10:19. Toews took a pass from Sharp and fired a shot that Lehtonen stopped, but the bouncing puck glanced off Erik Cole's skate and went into the net.

Dallas got its fifth power play at 13:02 when defenseman Alex Goligoski was hooked by Brandon Pirri, but again came up empty.

"We had some good chances," Seguin said of Dallas' continued issues on the power play. "We were moving the puck around. They are a good team, their goalie made some good saves. We just had some chances we didn't score on, a few times the puck was bouncing over our sticks. It's how the game went."

Chicago got its only power play of the game when Daley was called for holding at 17:52 and needed only 23 seconds to capitalize. Kane put the Blackhawks ahead to stay by beating Lehtonen to the short side with a one-timer after some precision passing from Sharp and Andrew Shaw.

"In the end, we gave the game away. It happens," Ruff said.

The Stars finished the game 0-for-6 on the power play and are 0-for-24 at American Airlines Center this season.

"Again, it had some real good opportunities but didn't convert. That could have been a game changer when the game was right there," Ruff said.

The Blackhawks scored five or more goals for the sixth time in their past eight games.

"We've been creating our fair share of chances all season long and early on the pucks seemed to be staying out and now they seem to be able to score with every line," Sharp said. "Our defense is great at creating and jumping into plays. We don't try to look at the numbers and say we should be scoring this many goals a game. We're just trying to help each other and create offense."

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