From outhouse to penthouse, Hawks roll over San Jose 5-1 - FOX 32 News Chicago

From outhouse to penthouse, Hawks roll over San Jose 5-1

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Blackhawks did an about-face from their performance in Nashville and dominated the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. The home team provided their fans with one of the best efforts of the season and skated away with a 5-1 victory. Chicago played a fast paced game and were fundamentally sound.

The Hawks were a model of consistency which was a far cry from their effort the night before. San Jose is one the best teams in the league but they couldn't mount much pressure. The Hawks played well in every period but really squeezed the life out of the Sharks in the final frame.It was a text book effort as a 2-1 lead turned into a 5-1 route. Actually San Jose would have suffered a rare shutout if not for a fluke second period goal.

Joel Quenneville wasn't happy after the stinker in Nashville and he must have gotten his point across because his squad went from awful to near perfect. Certainly Quenneville must appreciate the dedication as now the Hawks will depart on a seven game road journey on a positive note.

Crawford was hung out to dry versus the Preds and bounced back with a reliable effort. The Hawks offense starts with their defense and every defender played well. Michal Rozsival and Nick Leddy were solid, as was the rest of the crew.

Brandon Saad seems to get better every week and Brandon Pirri is scoring goals by going to the net. Marcus Kruger had one of his better games and recorded a slick assist on a Patrick Sharp tally. Kruger was strong at the dot once again, winning six of eight faceoffs.

The return of Kris Versteeg to the United Center went well as he recorded a goal and an assist. Sharp led the Chicago attack with two goals, one on a penalty shot, plus an assist. Jonathan Toews notched a goal and must have appreciated being a part of a much more focused group of Blackhawks.

Chicago sits atop the Western Conference with 32 points and will face a stern test on Tuesday night. The first stop of the circus road trip will be in Colorado as the Avalanche are off to a great start. The Av's trail Chicago by four points in the Central Division but have played two fewer games.

Al's Shots

There are three Chicago players listed out of action that have been placed on long term injured reserve. Joining Michael Kostka and Michal Handzus is the latest addition Nikolai Khabibulin.

Rookie netminder Antti Raanta has been recalled from Rockford and will replace Khabibulin on the road trip.

Quenneville mentioned Raanta will see some action on the road trip but didn't say when. It is doubtful Quenneville will change the lineup after playing so well versus San Jose. It wouldn't be a shock if Raanta made his debut in Winnipeg on Thursday night.

Kruger has significantly improved in the faceoff circle in the last couple of weeks. The Hawks would be better off if some of Kruger's improvement rubbed off on Pirri and Andrew Shaw. Those two centers continue to struggle and many times are not close to 50%.

I will be back on Wednesday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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