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'Hawks dominate Jets in Toews' homecoming

The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG -- Keep Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane off the scoresheet and you probably beat the Chicago Blackhawks, right?

Wrong.

With Toews and Kane shooting blanks, the Blackhawks got goals from five different players and points from 10 skaters Saturday afternoon in a 5-1 romp over the Winnipeg Jets.

The Blackhawks scored three straight goals to start the second period to take command.

Tied 1-1 after the first, the Blackhawks got goals from left wingers Brandon Bollig and Patrick Sharp, and defenseman Nick Leddy within a four-minute span in the second period to chase goalie Ondrej Pavelec from the Jets' net.

Winnipeg defenseman Tobias Enstrom and Chicago blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson traded goals in the first period, while winger Ben Smith added a third-period goal for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Fans were pumped to welcome home the Jets from a less-than-stellar four-game road trip, and many were psyched up to watch Toews, a local product, play his first-ever regular-season game in Winnipeg.

While he didn't give them one of his greatest performances, the Chicago captain was pretty content with how the game unfolded.

"It was nice to be home, he said. "You hear a lot about the atmosphere. It's a great building and fans were really excited and bring a lot of energy. ... We're a strong team when we roll four lines and when everyone's contributing. That means defensive play, but obviously contributing offensively as well, and we saw that today.

The victory was the third straight for the Blackhawks (9-2-3), who host the Calgary Flames on Sunday night. The Jets (5-8-2) are on a three-game losing streak and have a chance to rebound Monday when they host the Detroit Red Wings.

Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 26 shots for his eighth victory of the season.

"I thought we had a good start to that second period," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. "The first period we were lucky to be even, but (Crawford) kept us in the game. We liked the production across the board, and we've been getting it the last three games. That's more representative of how we were last year with the offense on this team."

The Blackhawks were short-handed for just 21 seconds, a coup for a club that has struggled on the penalty kill.

"That's always the key, stay out of the box," said Quenneville. "We like a zero day... we'll take it."

The Blackhawks were making their first regular-season visit to Winnipeg since 1996, when the old version of the Jets played out of the now-demolished Winnipeg Arena.

Now, as Central Division rivals, the teams meet three more times this season. The clubs face off again Wednesday in Chicago.

Pavelec yielded four goals on just 14 shots before being replaced by Al Montoya in the Winnipeg net. But Jets coach Claude Noel couldn't find fault with his starter.

"I'm not going to sit here and fault Pavelec," he said. "Pavelec's made some huge saves for us that have kept us in games. This particular game I'm sure he would have liked that. But before it gets to him, there are breakdowns elsewhere.

"You look at the play on their second goal. You cannot attack the rush against Chicago. We get tripped up, they come down 2-on-1 and it's in the net. The other one is turnovers. We knew they had a transition game and that's another one. You can talk about the saves, but there were mistakes that happened before that."

Noel was referring to Bollig's goal just 54 seconds into the second period that broke the 1-1 tie, and Sharp's breakaway tally less than two minutes later that made it 3-1.

NOTES: Quenneville played Winnipeg-born stars C Toews, RW Sharp and D Duncan Keith the first shift Saturday afternoon. ... Before the game, the Jets announced they'd claimed D Keaton Ellerby off waivers from Los Angeles. The 24-year-old Strathmore, Alberta native has played in 160 games between the Florida Panthers and the Kings. The Jets need a body on the blue line, with regulars Jacob Trouba, Mark Stuart and Paul Postma out with injuries. ... Blackhawks backup G Nikolai Khabibulin, 40, played the last-ever game for Winnipeg in 1996 before the Jets left for Phoenix. Jets fans gave him a standing ovation when he was saluted on the big screen. ... Chicago is ranked dead last in the NHL on the penalty kill with a success rate of just 72.5 percent. ... Winnipeg C Bryan Little came into the game leading the club with seven goals, matching his goal total for the 48-game season last year. ... The reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks visit the White House on Monday to be congratulated by U.S. President Barack Obama. The team will also spend time with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. ... Jets captain LW Andrew Ladd and D Dustin Byfuglien won a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010, and RW Michael Frolik was a member of Chicago's 2013 championship squad.
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