By Chris Kuc
CHICAGO – The Blackhawks weren’t in the spirit of giving in their final game before a 3-day Christmas break.
The defending champions gift-wrapped a 5-2 win over the Devils on Monday by playing stifling defense that limited New Jersey to 12 shots and were dominant in the faceoff circle with 38 wins in 56 draws.
Throw in an offensive outburst and the Hawks had their third win in their last four games and will be able to rest while holding a 26-7-6 record.
Patrick Sharp had two goals, Nick Leddy a goal and an assist, and Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell also scored to provide plenty of support for goaltender Antti Raanta.
Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, and Brandon Saad each added two assists for the Hawks.
Stephen Gionta and Michael Ryder scored for the Devils, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Cory Schneider suffered the loss in goal.
Sharp kicked things off for the Hawks after taking a nifty pass from Hossa and firing a shot from the top of the left circle that deflected off Devils defenseman Mark Fayne and skipped past Schneider to the short side.
In the second, Gionta tied it on New Jersey’s fourth shot of the game.
Kane continued to build his Hart Trophy credentials with his team-leading 22nd goal, when the winger battled hard in front of the net and knocked in a rebound of a Leddy shot.
That extended Kane’s points streak to 12 games, which matched his career high set earlier this season.
Playing in his third game after missing 14 with a left knee injury, Bickell made it 3-1 later in the second with his first score since Nov. 10. Bickell’s shot from the right dot sailed past Schneider, who was screened by Andrew Shaw.
In the third, Ryder cut the deficit to a goal before Sharp scored his second of the night when Hossa sprung his teammate on a breakaway and the veteran winger buried it.
The Hawks put the game away with a goal from Leddy on the power play. The defenseman’s rocket from the top of the left circle banged off the far post and ricocheted into the net.