Updated: Sunday, Jan. 15 at 9:39 p.m.
The Blackhawks have had good balanced scoring lately. But ultimately your top guys have to be your top guys.
And on Sunday night, they were.
Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg each scored, as the Blackhawks top line of those two and Patrick Kane was stellar in a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Blackhawks have collected points in their last four games and are back atop the Central Division standings.
Toews, Stalberg and Kane combined for two goals, three assists and 17 of the teams 40 shots on goal, pacing the Blackhawks with a relentless game. Kane couldve easily had more than one assist, especially when former teammate Antti Niemi robbed him in the opening minutes.
I think all of us were kind of feeling it tonight, just holding onto (the puck), Kane said. Going up against their top line of (Joe) Thornton, (Patrick) Marleau and (Joe) Pavelski, you try to keep it away from them. I think we did a good job tonight.
Niemi stopped 36 of 40 against his former team; hes now 4-2-1 against them. Corey Crawford stopped 21 of 24 for the victory.
Dave Bolland also scored and rookie Andrew Shaw added his fourth goal in the seven games hes been with the Blackhawks. Stalberg, who now has 14 goals this season, had another potential score waived off due to a kicking motion.
We definitely had lots of chances; it felt like we couldve scored more Stalberg said of the top line. We had the puck on our stick most of the night, kept their top line from getting the puck.
It was the Sharks first regulation loss since Dec. 26; they went 6-0-2 in their last eight entering Sunday night.
Theyre a tough enough group to play against when youre managing the puck properly, but when you turn it over as many times as we did Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. I dont know if the puck had a Blackhawks logo on it and we thought we had to give it back to them, but we certainly did for at least the first half of the game. I thought their energy guys out-energized our group as well.
But, it wouldnt be a Blackhawks game if it wasnt a tight one. Sharks center and Evanston product Tommy Wingels made it 4-3 with less than five minutes remaining in the third, and then the Blackhawks had to kill off a Sharks 6-on-4 power play for the final 67 seconds.
It got a little scary there at the end, defenseman Duncan Keith said. (Crawford) made some big saves and we did a good job of staying tight, blocking guys out and taking away some of their lanes to get shots.
The Blackhawks took three of four on this back-to-back weekend against tough opponents. Theyve gotten a little bit of everything from everyone and got the best from their top guys on Sunday night.
Yesterday we didnt get the start we wanted to but Id say we carried that third period that we had yesterday right into today and had a great first tonight, Toews said. All in all we kept working. Its fun when we play the type of game like that.