Even before the Blackhawks went out and smoked Colorado on Friday night at the United Center, Avalanche coach Patrick Roy was conceding the Central Division title to them.
"This is a team that's going to finish, in my opinion, in the top two in our conference," Roy said of the Hawks. "I'd like to be very positive, but at the same time I see where we are in the standings and where they are. We don't think we're going to battle with Chicago in the standings."
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Blackhawks game dayBlackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center, 7 p.m. Saturday
TV: Channel 9
Radio: WGN-AM 720
The skinny: The Blues are tough to beat at home as the Hawks discovered early in the season when St. Louis scored in the last minute for a win. The Blues could be without leading goal scorer Alex Steen, who is questionable with an upper body injury. Vladimir Sobotka, Jordan Leopold and Ryan Reaves are out.
Next: Los Angeles Kings at the United Center, 7 p.m. Monday.
-- Tim Sassone
The Hawks got 3 goals from Patrick Sharp on his 32nd birthday in a 7-2 rout of Colorado to stretch their lead in the division over the Avs to 11 points.
Sharp scored twice in the first period and again early in the second to complete his third career hat trick. He became the first player in team history to get a hat trick on his birthday.
"The guys were giving me some heat about turning 32 years old, saying I was an old man, so I had to go out there and prove them wrong," Sharp said. "It's special anytime you can do it, but on a birthday where some of the guys were giving me some heat for being an old-timer, that makes it even better."
Jonathan Toews added 2 goals and 2 assists for the Hawks as the first line of Toews, Sharp and Marian Hossa continued its domination.
Sharp's 3 gave him 10 in the last nine games and 21 for the season.
There's no way Sharp can be kept off the Canadian Olympic team.
"That's not my decision," Sharp said. "All I can do is let my play do the talking."
If it were up to Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, Sharp would be on the team.
"He had a heck of a night tonight," Quenneville said. "This is his best season to date."
Not only did Sharp score 3 goals, he set up Toews' second after making a terrific back check on Matt Duchene and sending the puck the other way.
"That line had a lot of different looks," Quenneville said. "They were dangerous every time they hit the ice."
Michal Handzus and Kris Versteeg also scored goals for the Hawks. Patrick Kane set up the goal by Handzus with a nifty pass to extend his points scoring streak to 13 games. Kane has points in 25 of the Hawks' last 26 games.
Versteeg closed out the scoring with his eighth goal of the season.
"It's an unpredictable game," Quenneville said of the Hawks' first game in three days. "You don't know how you're going to play. You don't know how your opponents are going to play. I thought we were ready. We seem to do the right things when we do get rest and guys handle it the right way. They looked good this morning. They looked good in the meeting."
Antti Raanta ran his record to 9-1-2 by making 16 saves.
"I thought the first 10 we were kind of playing with them a bit and then all of a sudden when they score that first goal and then the second, it was getting tougher for us," Roy said.
"Yeah, I think that's a job (facing Sharp and Toews) for the top defense and top lines to match up against their top lines," Avs defenseman Ryan Wilson said. "I think they played really well. They always seem to play good at home. We just came out with a bad, lackluster effort in the first and it just carried on."
•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.