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Toews, Hossa lead Blackhawks' rout of Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- In case there was any doubt, the Chicago Blackhawks showed why they're on top of the NHL standings.

Jonathan Toews scored twice in a 1:35 span of the first period, and Marian Hossa added a pair of second-period goals as the Blackhawks overwhelmed the Dallas Stars 8-1 on Saturday night.

"A great effort all-around by the team, a game that we probably needed, since we've been in so many close games, to get some guys some confidence scoring some goals," said Chicago forward Patrick Kane, who had two assists and a third-period goal. "It was good to see a lot of guys step up."

The Blackhawks started the season 21-0-3 before back-to-back regulation losses to Colorado and Edmonton. The Hawks had to go to a shootout to beat Columbus, but they were back to being their dominating selves against the Stars (12-12-3), who dropped their third home game this week and are 0-3-1 in their past four.

"If this isn't an alarm clock I don't know what is," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said during a brief media scrum.

Toews opened the scoring by deflecting Nick Leddy's shot behind Kari Lehtonen 9:05 into the game and made it 2-0 at 10:30 with a tap-in. Leddy added another goal before the end of the opening period, in which Chicago outshot Dallas 11-3.

"I think maybe the fact that we were able to distance ourselves early and not let them back into the game maybe took the wind out of their sails," Toews said of Chicago's quick start. "As the game went along, the puck just seemed to keep bouncing our way. I think whether you score eight goals or not, we did what we had to do to win and played a full 60 minutes."

Chicago poured it on in the second period. Defenseman Johnny Oduya made it 4-0 and ended Lehtonen's evening at 8:01 when he scored his second of the season on a screened slap shot. Hossa beat his replacement, Richard Bachman, at 12:18 and added a power-play goal at 19:01 for a 6-0 lead after two periods.

Duncan Keith and Kane sandwiched third-period goals around a power-play score by Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley at 6:30 that ended goaltender Corey Crawford's shutout bid. Kane's tally, his 15th of the season, was truly of the highlight-reel variety. He spun around Dallas rookie defenseman Brenden Dillon in the right faceoff circle before firing a 23-foot backhand that beat Bachman to his short side to make it 8-1.

"I think he [Kane] surprised him [Bachman] with that move there, and he made a nice play to Hossa on the four-on-four goal as well, but I think everybody was making plays tonight," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Our passion and puck possession game was strong."

Kane had two assists to go along with his goal; Toews added an assist for a three-point night.

Crawford made 18 saves; he faced eight shots through the first two periods.

Lehtonen and Bachman each stopped 13 of the 17 shots they faced for Dallas, numbers which didn't sit well with center Jamie Benn, who returned to the ice after missing the past two games with a wrist injury.

"We left them hanging out to dry. That's unacceptable," Benn said. "We need to do something within this room to change that. It's just an unacceptable effort tonight."

Gulutzan agreed that his players did leave Bachman and Lehtonen out to dry on several occasions, but he considered it a dead issue. "The last thing we're going to do here is sit and talk about our goalies," he said. "Which one could they have gotten?"

The Blackhawks continue their four-game road trip on Monday night at Colorado while Dallas will conclude its four-game homestand on Monday against Calgary.

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