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Hawks break out the offense, Niemi earns another shutout in 4-0 win
Kane leaves with upper body injury
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Blackhawks' goalie Antti Niemi has allowed one goal in his last three starts.

 

Associated Press

Patrick Kane, center, is congratulated by teammates Troy Brouwer (22) and Jonathan Toews after scoring the game's first goal.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 12/13/2009 9:04 PM | Updated: 12/13/2009 9:46 PM

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Tim Sassone's game tracker

Three stars

1. Marian Hossa, Hawks: A highlight-reel goal and assist in an all-around strong effort.

2. Antti Niemi, Hawks: An 18-save performance for his third shutout of the season in seven starts.

3. Brent Seabrook, Hawks: Two assists and 4 hits in 23 minutes for the defenseman.

Key stat

Tampa Bay stars Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis were a combined minus-5 with 4 shots and were part of an 0-for-5 power play.

Brouwer misses

Troy Brouwer's failed penalty shot in the third period continued the Hawks' streak of never having scored on a penalty shot at the United Center. Troy Murray was the last Hawk to successfully convert a penalty shot at home in 1987 at Chicago Stadium.

The Blackhawks' offense showed some life Sunday night, not that they needed much thanks to goalie Antti Niemi.

The Hawks scored more than 2 goals for the first time in five games in their 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center for Niemi's second shutout in his last three starts and third of the season in just seven starts.

"I've never had so many shutouts, but good stretches I have had," Niemi said. "You don't want to feel too confident, but I feel pretty good."

In his last three starts, Niemi has beaten Vancouver 1-0, Pittsburgh 2-1 and now Tampa Bay. While he stole victories for the Hawks on the road in Vancouver and Pittsburgh, he needed to make only 18 saves on Sunday.

"I think his last two starts he might have been a little bit overworked, but tonight he did what he had to do," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

There was good news after the game regarding Patrick Kane, who left in the first period when he was cut above his left eye, though not before he broke his nine-game goal drought.

Kane's injury is not serious and he should play Wednesday against St. Louis.

"If I had to bet, I'd say yeah," Quenneville said.

Kane made it 1-0 at 7:42 but left at 13:01 when he was tripped into the boards by Tampa's Mat Smaby.

"He had a cut above his eye and they had to stitch it up and his vision was impaired," Quenneville said.

Marian Hossa had a goal and assist in his best game at home since his recovery from shoulder surgery.

Hossa outraced two defenders to set up Ben Eager's goal at 10:42 of the second period then got his fourth of the season later in the period.

Hossa's goal was a beauty. He gloved a pass from Patrick Sharp, laid the puck down to himself and swatted it past goalie Antero Nittymaki.

"You're not going to see too many goals like that," Quenneville said. "He's probably a good tennis player as well."

"I didn't have much time there so I tried to do it and hit it right on the stick," Hossa said. "I was a little bit lucky too."

Jonathan Toews scored early in the third period and is the only Hawk who has been producing goals with any consistently. Toews has 5 goals in the last seven games and 9 for the season after going without one in the first seven games.

It was the first time the Hawks scored more than 2 goals since their 4-3 win over Columbus on Dec. 1.

"We're playing teams and they know we have lots of talent," Hossa said. "But we just can't rely on the talent, we have to keep working too. We talked about getting better 5-on-5 and we have to do that."

All 4 goals were scored 5-on-5.

"We didn't get the volume of shots we've had recently, but some nights the puck goes in for us," Quenneville said. "Kaner started us off with a great shot and you get one that you don't see very often from Hoss.

"We didn't want to change our approach from how we played in recent games, but we've got to find a way to score. That's what we've been trying to drill home here the last couple days."