Blackhawks win sixth straight home game
Moving forward without leading goal scorer Patrick Sharp is the latest challenge facing the Blackhawks.
The Hawks have survived to this point with key regulars Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Brian Campbell missing significant chunks of the season to be in the hunt for home ice in the first round of the playoffs with two weeks left in the season.
In their first game since Sharp suffered a left knee injury that will put him down for a few weeks, the Hawks turned up the heat defensively to beat the Florida Panthers 4-0 on Wednesday night at the United Center.
"I know when we had Kane and Hossa out we went on a nice run there," general manager Stan Bowman said. "I think we've proven we can do it without some of our main guys. The reality is you have no choice but to. Other teams aren't going to give you a break just because you have some guys out of the lineup.
"We've got to find a way, and I'm very confident in our group and I know they are as well. These games are very important, but I think it gets us very focused.
The Hawks' sixth straight win at home gave them 88 points and moved them back into fifth place in the Western Conference standings with nine games to play.
"If we keep winning, we're going to be in the playoffs -- it's as simple of that," winger Viktor Stalberg said. "If we keep getting points in every game we're going to be there."
Brent Seabrook's power-play goal at 14:41 of the second period broke a scoreless tie. Stalberg made it 2-0 with a goal 46 seconds into the third period with Kane and Tomas Kopecky adding late scores.
Corey Crawford made 23 saves for his fourth shutout and 29th victory of the season.
"We played a tight game," Crawford said. "We were waiting for them to push the offense and then we could capitalize. We were blocking a lot of shots in our zone. It was an all-around good game."
Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun kept his team in it with 21 saves before Seabrook's goal.
"Nothing-nothing halfway through the game and anything can happen," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We wanted to make sure we didn't change too much, don't get frustrated, stay the course, and it took a power-play goal to break the tie.
"Obviously, scoring the first goal was vital. We felt playing with the lead is a lot more comfortable than when it's anybody's ballgame. I thought Crow was rock solid tonight."
Seabrook and Kane each had a goal and assist while Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith chipped in with 2 assists apiece.
"I thought it was a great team effort," Seabrook said.
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