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Sharp's pair helps Blackhawks blitz Stars 4-1

by Steve Hunt
DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars, returning home from a road trip, never knew what hit them.

Chicago's Dave Bolland's goal 10 seconds into the game stunned the Stars and Patrick Sharp's first of two just 92 seconds later took all the air out of them. The result, a 4-1 victory for the Blackhawks before a disappointed packed house of 19,099 at the American Airlines Center.

"It was one of those starts. You kind of hope you get one of those once in a while," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's something we've been talking about going into the last three games, so it was nice to see the results."

Sharp scored 1:42 into the game, 92 seconds after Bolland had put Chicago in front, and connected again early in the third period as the Hawks (39-25-8) improved to 86 points and remained sixth in the Western Conference. Corey Crawford had an easy night in goal, facing just 22 shots.

The Pacific Division-leading Stars (39-28-5) lost for the second straight game. Jamie Benn's goal with 5:50 left in regulation prevented the shutout. But it couldn't undo the damage done by Chicago's two early goals.

"We put ourselves in a hole there, and you never want to do that against a good team like Chicago," Benn said. "We did a better job in the second, but had another bad start in the third that crushed us. We shied away from our game a bit. We need to play the simple game, get pucks deep, and win the blue lines. We can't shoot ourselves in the foot with bad starts."

The Hawks grabbed the lead when Bolland picked up a deflected pass and ripped a shot from the top of the left circle past Kari Lehtonen. It was the quickest goal ever allowed in the Stars' franchise history.

"Yeah, it was a great spark, getting that goal that quick," Bolland said. "I think our last few games we haven't had the best starts in our game. The big thing coming into this game was getting a good start."

Sharp then beat Lehtonen through a screen from the top of the left circle for a quick 2-0 lead.

Bolland nearly struck again at 8:29, but his 42-foot snap instead stuck the right post before landing in the net to stop play. Dallas' best chance in the opening period came with 4:31 left when captain Brenden Morrow deflected a shot by Adam Pardy off the right post.

After a scoreless second period, Chicago put the game away with two quick goals in the third.

"It wasn't our best game," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "For 56 minutes, we were OK playing against a good hockey club. But two minutes in the first and two minutes in the third put us to bed."

Marian Hossa's long slapper deflected off Pardy and past Lehtonen at 33 seconds to make it 3-0. The goal came just seconds after a costly giveaway by ex-Blackhawk Adam Burish.

Sharp struck again just 1:12 later, beating Lehtonen top shelf from the high slot with a wrister to make it 4-0. Viktor Stalberg picked up his second assist of the night on the tally.

"It seems like we started every period pretty quick. You're not always going to score like we did but as long as you do the right things, the game turns out in your favor," Sharp said.

Lehtonen, who came into the game off consecutive shutouts, stopped 27 of 31 shots.

The Stars, who were playing their third game in four nights in three cities, have a welcome break until Phoenix comes to Dallas on Tuesday.

"Rest up, and refocus," Benn said about the break. "We have a big one Tuesday. It's going to be huge for our team."
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