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updated: 12/14/2017 10:30 PM

Chicago Blackhawks storm past Jets thanks to impressive first period

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  • From left to right, Chicago Blackhawks' Gustav Forsling (42), Artem Anisimov (15), Patrick Kane (88) and Connor Murphy (5) celebrate Kane's goal against the Winnipeg Jets during second-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

    From left to right, Chicago Blackhawks' Gustav Forsling (42), Artem Anisimov (15), Patrick Kane (88) and Connor Murphy (5) celebrate Kane's goal against the Winnipeg Jets during second-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

 
 

Now that's what we're used to seeing from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Instead of the plodding, turnover-prone squad that has been on display too much this season, the Hawks played inspired, determined, dominating hockey Thursday night during an impressive 5-1 victory over host Winnipeg.

Facing a Jets squad that hadn't lost at home in regulation since Oct. 17, the Hawks raced out of the gates in the first period, getting goals from Vinnie Hinostroza at 1:50, the smoking-hot Tommy Wingels at 6:08 and Nick Schmaltz at 10:21.

But it wasn't just the goal-scorers who impressed during the opening 20 minutes.

Brent Seabrook sacrificed himself and stepped in front of a hard shot by Tyler Myers. Connor Murphy stood his ground twice, breaking up potential odd-man rushes.

Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Alex DeBrincat turned in quality shift after quality shift. Patrick Sharp set up Hinostroza's goal with a perfect pass. Lance Bouma won a puck battle behind the net just before Wingels' third goal in the last four games.

And Corey Crawford continued to be Corey Crawford, stopping tough shots by Kyle Connor and Tucker Poolman.

"That's the perfect way to draw up a first period on the road," Wingels told NBCSCH. "We got pucks deep. We were aggressive. We defended well. We shot when the opportunity was there, and we got guys to the net."

Patrick Kane and defenseman Michal Kempny -- playing for the first time since Nov. 12 -- scored the Hawks' other goals.

The Hawks (16-11-5) have won a season-high four straight and pulled within 4 points of Winnipeg (18-9-5) in the Central Division.

"Probably the biggest win this year coming in against maybe one of the hottest teams in the league," Kane told reporters. "We're obviously happy coming off 3 straight wins at home, but we knew this was a real test for us. …

"You beat a team like this, you kind of prove to ourselves that, hey, maybe we're right there. If we can keep building off this, hopefully some good things happen down the road."

Crawford (27 saves) has allowed just 6 goals in four games since returning from a lower-body injury.

"That was probably our best effort this year," Crawford said. "A big win in a tough building against a team that's playing great."

Coach Joel Quenneville was happy with the first two periods, but he wasn't thrilled with the Jets outshooting the Hawks 14-7 in the third.

"(For) 40 minutes I like how we played," Quenneville said. "We did a lot of good things. We had a good start … quick to pucks, checked well, went to people quickly. We liked that pressure part of our game and our possession part.

"Then we got a little careless in the third. It didn't represent how we played for the first 40."

Winnipeg played without Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom. Both defensemen are dealing with lower-body injuries.

Next up for the Hawks is Minnesota at the United Center on Sunday. The Wild will be without goalie Devan Dubnyk, who is considered week to week with a lower-body injury.

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