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Blackhawks cruise to 5-1 win over Jets

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Updated: November 2, 2013 10:50PM



WINNIPEG, Manitoba — In the end, the Blackhawks’ 5-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon was just another hockey game. Just another two points to be won.

“Once the first puck dropped,” said Jonathan Toews, Winnipeg’s favorite son, who was facing his boyhood team for the first time, “it was back to business as usual.”

And for the Hawks these days, that means a lot of guys scoring a lot of goals. Toews and Patrick Kane were kept off the scoresheet, but the Hawks still scored at least five goals for the third straight game, and the fourth time in their last five.

While the focus entering the game was on Toews’ homecoming, and Jets fans focused their taunts on Kane and Corey Crawford, the Hawks’ fourth line starred in this one. Brandon Bollig (goal, assist), Marcus Kruger (two assists) and Ben Smith (goal) were each a plus-3 on the day. It was Bollig’s first career two-point game. The Hawks’ enforcer briefly entertained the idea of dropping the gloves for the old Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

“I did,” he admitted. “If it wasn’t a 5-1 game, that would have probably been the first thing on my mind.”

Bollig, one of four Hawks growing a mustache to raise awareness for men’s health issues in “Movember,” shaved for the first time in a long time on Friday.

“My beard was weighing me down,” he reasoned.

The Hawks actually trailed 1-0 early after Toby Enstrom beat Crawford (26 saves). But they scored five unanswered goals after that. Niklas Hjalmarsson scored midway through the first, then Bollig, Patrick Sharp and Leddy scored in the first six minutes of the second period to chase Ondrej Pavelec (10 saves) and bring in Al Montoya. Toews couldn’t convert on a breakaway on Montoya — Chicago’s Winnipeg native bested by Winnipeg’s Chicago native — and Kane hit the crossbar on a penalty shot. But Smith’s redirection of a Bollig shot capped the scoring midway through the third.

Toews was kicking himself for failing to corral a knuckling puck on his breakaway, but was happy to defer to his teammates on his big day.

“We’re a strong team when we roll four lines and everyone’s contributing — we saw that today,” he said. “It’s what makes us a dangerous team, when we have so many guys that can go and score in any which way.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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