The Blackhawks know the Anaheim Ducks will usually come with the physical, gritty game. And on Friday night, the Blackhawks physical, gritty guys came with that game and added a few points, to boot.
Jamal Mayers and John Scott chipped in points and chippiness, and Ray Emery won his fourth consecutive start in the Blackhawks 4-1 victory over the Ducks. The Blackhawks have now won four in a row and six of their last seven, as they are now tied atop the Western Conference with the idle Minnesota Wild.
Patrick Sharp had a goal and an assist, as he extended his point streak to a career-high eight games. Marian Hossa also had a goal and an assist and Dave Bolland scored a power-play goal.
The Blackhawks have been looking for more balanced scoring contributions, and they got it on Friday. The fourth line was noticeable early, as Mayers scored his third goal of the season with Andrew Brunette and Scott assisting.
I think obviously its a bonus if we score, so you always want to get into the forecheck and create some momentum, Mayers said. Brunos so good down low, he made a nice play and I just tried to take it to the net.
Emery said the Blackhawks scoring first was key.
Jammer made a great play and I think that Anaheims had some troubles lately, Emery said of his former team. So getting one early on them and maybe having them doubt themselves a bit is huge.
They were physical, too. Mayers had a fight late and Scott, who was put in the starting lineup instead of Ben Smith, easily won his bout with Ducks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank.
I was thinking (about the Gordie Howe hat trick); I almost had a breakaway pass there, it was just a little ahead of me, Scott said. I was definitely thinking about it after the second period, but I cant get greedy. One assist is good enough for me.
Emery also got an assist, the fourth of his career. The goaltender was on top of his game again on Friday, stopping 24 of 25 shots to improve to 8-1-2 this season. Teemu Selanne snuffed out Emerys shutout bid with just 1:47 remaining in regulation.
Rays very solid, looks composed, said coach Joel Quenneville, who collected his 599th victory on Friday. He was fighting through screens and finding pucks, and there was not a lot of loose stuff around him as well. Its been clean around his net.
The Blackhawks are on a roll right now. Some nights its been the top line. Other nights its been solely goaltender. On Friday they got a balanced night from everyone. From top to bottom everyone contributed, be it with points or punches.
Obviously we know how we have to play, Mayers said. Weve had just over 30 games to get used to each other. Weve got enough skill in this room to score goals. We have to shore up defensively and if we commit to that, well be fine.