By Chris Block
After a weekend dealing with wild rumors of off-ice turmoil and supposed discord, the Blackhawks took to the ice on Monday with a couple of new faces and minus another. A United Center crowd announced as 21,641 watched the ‘Hawks cruise to a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The win pushed the Hawks to five points up on Winnipeg in the Central Division and eight on the Minnesota Wild. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Hawks would finish 3rd in the Central and face the Blues in the first round. Winnipeg would play Nashville and Minnesota would cross over into the Pacific Division bracket by way of finishing second in the Wild Card standings. Chicago is still four points back of St. Louis and the Blues have a game in hand on them.
Jonathan Toews notched his 20th and 21st goals of the season as the Hawks easily dissected the Hurricanes defense. Brandon Saad kept pace with the Captain, scoring his 20th midway through the second after a solid Patrick Sharp forecheck that created a Carolina turnover. Marcus Kruger (6th) and Marian Hossa (18th) would round out Chicago’s scoring. Corey Crawford made 27 saves in earning his 25th win on the campaign.
Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen made their Blackhawks’ debuts.