NHL Wrap: Sharp, Blackhawks rout Avalanche

NHL Wrap: Sharp, Blackhawks rout Avalanche
December 28, 2013, 12:15 am
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Patrick Sharp recorded a hat trick and had an assist on his birthday (32) Friday night against Colorado. (USA Today Images)

CHICAGO -- After being kidded about being one of the old men on his team, Chicago's Patrick Sharp celebrated his 32nd birthday in style on the ice Friday night.

Sharp scored three goals for his third career hat trick and set up one of Jonathan Toews' two scores to lead the Blackhawks past the Colorado Avalanche 7-2.

Toews added two assists as both he and Sharp finished with four points. Michal Handzus and Kris Versteeg also scored for the Blackhawks, whose league-leading offense powered them to a second straight win and improved them to 7-1-1 in their past nine.

Sharp has 21 goals this season and 10 in his past nine games. He scored twice in Chicago's previous game, a 5-2 win over New Jersey on Monday.

"It's special any time you can do it (score a hat trick)," Sharp said. "But on a birthday, where some of the guys are giving me heat for being an old-timer, it makes it feel even better.

"Tonight, I was getting set up with some good plays, and once you start scoring the way we were tonight, you get a good feeling and you just want to keep that going."

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw too (see full recap).

Smyth, Debnyk lead Oilers past Flames
CALGARY, Alberta -- Ryan Smyth scored both goals and Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves Friday night to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 2-0 victory over the Calgary Flames.

Smyth's fifth goal of the season, and first goal in 14 games, came at 17:22 of the first period and it came by way of a fortunate bounce.

With Smyth stationed at the top of the goal crease, Ales Hemsky fired the puck from the corner that hit Smyth in the chest and bounced past Calgary's Reto Berra.

There was a lengthy video review, but the goal was upheld.

That was all the offense Dubnyk needed in recording his second shutout of the season and eighth of his career.

Smyth's second goal was into an empty net with six seconds left.

Edmonton, which won consecutive games for the first time in more than a month, will go for three victories in a row Saturday night when it hosts the Philadelphia Flyers (see full recap).

Fleury, Penguins top Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- No lead was safe for either Pittsburgh or Carolina until James Neal ended a back-and-forth game in overtime.

Neal scored at 1:03 of the extra session to lift the Penguins past the Hurricanes 4-3 on Friday night.

NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby had a goal, and Chris Conner and Deryk Engelland each scored in the third period.

The Eastern Conference leaders rallied from one goal down in the third period and took a 3-2 lead -- only to let it slip away late in regulation before Neal's goal in OT gave them their 13th win in 15 games.

"That's where our team has matured and changed, and I think we regrouped and didn't let it bother us," Neal said. "We come right back and get one."

Neal, who also had two assists, ended it by beating Justin Peters with a wrist shot off a slick give-and-go from Jussi Jokinen -- the former Carolina forward's third assist.

"When we got our third one, I felt pretty good about it," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "Disappointed to give up that third goal, but it was nice to see (Neal) finish it up for us."

Fleury stopped 31 shots in his 500th career game (see full recap).

Jackets edge Devils in shootout
NEWARK, N.J. -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said forward Cam Atkinson is one of his team's most talented players.

Atkinson backed up his coach's faith on Friday night.

Atkinson scored in the shootout to lead the Blue Jackets to a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Curtis McElhinney made 16 saves for Columbus, which has won three in a row. Artem Anisimov scored the Blue Jackets' goal in regulation.

"Big two points," Richards said. "I liked the way that we played. I thought we managed, I thought we played hard from the start to the finish.

"They're a good team and they're going to get their opportunities; they had their opportunities and Curtis made some saves for us. As far as a 60-plus minute effort we probably got efforts from everyone tonight."

New Jersey has lost two in a row. Martin Brodeur stopped 29 of 30 shots, and Adam Henrique scored for the Devils in the third period (see full recap).