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updated: 12/23/2013 10:49 PM

Blackhawks make sure this lead holds up

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  • Patrick Sharp, left, celebrates his second goal of the game with Brent Seabrook, giving the Blackhawks some breathing room.

    Patrick Sharp, left, celebrates his second goal of the game with Brent Seabrook, giving the Blackhawks some breathing room.
    Associated Press

By Caitlin Swieca
Special to the Daily Herald

When the Devils' Michael Ryder scored 59 seconds into the third period and silence fell over the United Center, it was hard not to think back to the Blackhawks' game against Vancouver three nights earlier.

After all, Hawks players had spent Monday morning telling reporters how they needed to wash the bad taste out of their mouths after squandering a 2-goal lead in Friday's shootout loss.

Now, after two defensively dominant periods, the Blackhawks had quickly let their 3-1 lead shrink to 3-2.

Those flashbacks stopped less than five minutes later, when a Marian Hossa pass found Patrick Sharp all alone in the New Jersey end.

Sharp put a breakaway shot past Devils goalie Cory Schneider to regain the 2-goal lead 5:54 into the final period.

"Big goal, because (the Devils) had a good press on early in the period, scoring in the second shift there," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

"Then they had a little bit of zone time in our end. You get a 2-goal lead and you felt like you had that insurance goal. Great move, great finish, great recognition."

Nick Leddy scored on a power play 12:59 into the third period, and the Blackhawks (26-7-6) earned a 5-2 victory Monday night.

Though Patrick Kane and Sharp continued their hot offensive streaks -- Kane extended his point-scoring string to 12 games, and Sharp has 4 points in his last four games -- the defense was the catalyst.

The Devils managed only 12 shots for the game, making it an easy night for Hawks goalie Antti Raanta.

"(The defense) stepping up helps when the forwards are coming back hard," Kane said. "They did a great job breaking up plays. If we can play defense like that every day, I think we'll see a lot more scores like this."

The Hawks got off to a strong start, maintaining offensive pressure early and outshooting the Devils 12-2 in the first period. Patrick Sharp scored 12:59 in to give the Hawks the early lead.

The Devils tied it in the second period when Stephen Gionta tipped in a shot from the blue line at 5:37.

The Hawks quickly regained the lead when Kane scored at 7:57. Bryan Bickell followed with a goal through traffic less than five minutes later.

Ryder's goal early in the third period pulled the Devils within 1 before Sharp and Leddy scored to secure the triumph.

The Blackhawks have 58 points, 1 behind Anaheim, which defeated Washington 3-2 Monday.

The Hawks will enjoy a three-day Christmas break before back-to-back games against division rivals.

They host the Colorado Avalanche on Friday and travel to St. Louis to play the Blues on Saturday.

"Feels good to get a big win in front of our crowd, and with three days off, it feels even better," Sharp said. "We get to put our feet up and relax and get ready for the two big games coming up."

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