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updated: 1/3/2014 9:51 PM

Hats off — again — to Sharp

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  • The Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp celebrates his fourth career hat trick and second in his last five games. The red-hot Sharp has 14 goals in his last 13 games.

    The Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp celebrates his fourth career hat trick and second in his last five games. The red-hot Sharp has 14 goals in his last 13 games.
    Associated Press


It's hard to imagine where the Blackhawks might be without goalie Antti Raanta.

Or Patrick Sharp.

When No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford went down with a groin injury on Dec. 8, Raanta stepped in and the Hawks haven't skipped a beat.

Raanta ran his record to 11-1-3 on Friday with a 5-3 win at New Jersey behind Sharp's second hat trick in the last five games.

Sharp now has 14 goals in the last 13 games.

Raanta celebrated being named the NHL co-rookie of the month for December with another win. He went 8-1-3 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .912 save percentage with a shutout in December.

"He's been remarkable," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters.

Raanta allowed 2 or fewer goals in 10 of his 12 December appearances, capping the month with 26 saves for his first career shutout Dec. 30 against the Kings.

Raanta was strong again Friday with 24 saves, many of them big stops when the game was still 1-1.

Giving Crawford the night off after his strong return on Thursday against the Islanders, Raanta was tested most of the night by the Devils.

"Solid," Quenneville said. "I thought he had a great first period for us. Antti finds a way to get the job done. You've got to commend him."

The Hawks busted open a 1-1 game with 3 goals in a span of 4:04 in the first six minutes of the third period by Brandon Saad, Sharp and Marian Hossa.

It was the second goal of the game for Sharp, who gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead at 1:34 of the second period when he snapped a shot past Martin Brodeur from in the slot.

But the lead didn't last long, as Andy Greene got behind the Hawks defense and beat Raanta in alone at 2:17.

Sharp's second goal was a pinpoint shot high over Brodeur from a bad angle left. He completed his fourth career hat trick at 18:32 of the third period on a breakaway after the Devils had cut the deficit to 4-3 on a pair of goals by Marek Zidlicky.

"I think we just got our legs under us in the third period," said Sharp, who leads the Hawks with 25 goals. "That two-hour bus ride (after Thursday's game) in a snowstorm kind of stiffened everybody up."

The win made the Hawks 8-0-3 in the second half of back-to-back games.

"One thing about our team is in back-to-back games we've had a pretty good record," Quenneville said. "Everybody contributes. We don't change too much how we play. I loved their energy coming out in the third period. We scored early and got a little confidence off it."

Patrick Kane assisted on Saad's goal, which was his 15th of the season.

It came on the day Kane was honored by the league as first star of the month for December.

It was the second consecutive month Kane was named the No. 1 star. The last player to do that was Sidney Crosby in 2010.

Kane had a league-best 16 assists, 23 points and was plus-14. He had at least 1 point in 13 of 14 games, stretching his career-long point streak to 14 games before it ended in the final contest of 2013.

It marked Kane's second such stretch of 10 or more games this season. He had a 12-game points streak from Nov. 3-27. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kane became the first player to record multiple point streaks of 10 or more games in the same season since Jaromir Jagr in 2005-06.

•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at

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