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Patrick Sharp’s birthday hat trick leads Hawks’ rout

Avalanche 2

Colorado 0 1 1 — 2

BLACKHAWKS 3 4 0 — 7

First Period—1, HAWKS, Sharp 19 (Keith, Seabrook), 12:27. 2, HAWKS, Toews 14 (Hossa, Hjalmarsson), 18:03. 3, HAWKS, Sharp 20 (Keith, Toews), 19:18 (pp). Penalties—Talbot, Col (tripping), 13:44; Colorado bench, served by McGinn (too many men), 18:46.

Second Period—4, HAWKS, Sharp 21 (Hjalmarsson, Toews), :27. 5, HAWKS, Toews 15 (Sharp), 8:21. 6, Colorado, Stastny 11 (Landeskog, Parenteau), 9:07. 7, HAWKS, Handzus 4 (Kane, Versteeg), 13:30. 8, HAWKS, Versteeg 8 (Keith, Handzus), 17:48. Penalties—Hjalmarsson, HAWKS (holding stick), 9:59.

Third Period—9, Colorado, Landeskog 11 (Parenteau), 7:37. Penalties—Rozsival, HAWKS (illegal stick), 18:39; Barrie, Col (holding), 19:56.

Shots on Goal—Colorado 5-7-6—18. HAWKS 12-12-13—37.

Power-play opportunities—Colorado 0 of 2; HAWKS 1 of 2.

Goalies—Colorado, Giguere 7-3-0 (24 shots-17 saves), Varlamov (0:00 third, 13-13). HAWKS, Raanta 9-1-2 (18-16).

Referees—Francis Charron, Marc Joannette. Linesmen—Andy McElman, Bryan Pancich.

A—22,201 (19,717). T—2:24.

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Updated: January 29, 2014 6:13AM

About two hours before the game Friday night, with 46 games left in his season, Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy ceded the Central Division championship to the Blackhawks. This, even though the St. Louis Blues were only five points back of the Hawks and the Avs only nine, each with three games in hand. This, despite the Hawks’ middling record in the division. This, despite the Avalanche having won five of its last seven against the Hawks.

“We know that Chicago is going to be on top,” Roy said. “We don’t think we’re going to battle with Chicago in the standings. I like to be very positive, but at the same time, I see where we are, and this is a very good team [we’re playing].”

Well, the Hawks didn’t clinch anything with their 7-2 annihilation of the Avalanche, but they sure made Roy’s pessimism look like prescience.

Patrick Sharp celebrated his 32nd birthday with his third career hat trick and an assist, Jonathan Toews broke out of his scoring slump with two goals and two assists, Duncan Keith had three assists and Patrick Kane extended his point streak to a career-high 13 games with an assist as the Hawks came out of the three-day Christmas break flying — with a visit to the Blues on Saturday up next.

Sharp continued to make his case for a spot on Team Canada at the upcoming Olympics — Toews said leaving him off the roster at this point wasn’t “even an option” — moving within one goal of Kane’s team lead with his 19th, 20th and 21st goals.

Birthdays suit Sharp well — he also scored in the Hawks’ first game after each of his daughters was born, including in October against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“It’s special anytime you can do it, but on a birthday where some of the guys were giving me some heat for being an old-timer, it feels even better,” he said.

Sharp also set up Toews’ second goal with a tremendous backcheck, stealing the puck off speedy Matt Duchene’s stick on a breakaway before turning the action the other way.

“It was unreal,” Toews said. “He was determined to get back there, and things turned around pretty quick.”

Michal Handzus and Kris Versteeg also scored for the Hawks. The defense continued to play well, also, limiting the Avalanche to 18 shots on goal, three days after holding the New Jersey Devils to 12.

The win improved the Hawks’ record to 9-6-1 against division opponents. Now they face the Blues, who are 10-0-1 in Central play, with two victories over the Hawks. Toews hoped the fresh legs from the three-day Christmas break will still be there, and Sharp hoped the Hawks saved some goals after the blowout.

Because while Roy has already given the title to the Hawks, the Blues surely believe otherwise.

“Fun place to play, two great teams and it’s going to be an awesome atmosphere,” Sharp said. “We’re excited about it.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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