The Blackhawks’ top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa is proving to be quite a challenge for the rest of the NHL these days.
Just ask the Winnipeg Jets.
Toews scored in the first period and Sharp had a goal and an assist, leading the Blackhawks to a 4-1 victory over the Jets on Wednesday night.
"We’ve had a couple games where we didn’t click as much as we want to, but I think we got back to where we support each other, being in the right areas, and you saw the chances we got," Toews said. "The more we do that, the more chances we get to score."
Fellow Winnipeg native Duncan Keith added two assists in Chicago’s fourth win in five games. Patrick Kane scored in the final seconds of the first period and Brandon Pirri added his third of the season on a breakaway in the second.
Sharp also scored in his hometown of Winnipeg during Saturday’s 5-1 win. Toews is tied with Kane for the team lead with 14 points, and Sharp has three multipoint games this season.
"Three players that want to hold onto the puck and make plays," Sharp said, explaining the recent success of his line. "You don’t see anybody trying to beat people 1-on-1. It’s getting goals by moving the puck back and forth, and all three guys like to score."
Winnipeg forward Michael Frolik received a standing ovation when he was recognized during a break in the first period in his first game in Chicago since he helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in June. Frolik, who played a pivotal role on Chicago’s penalty-kill unit last season, was traded to the Jets for draft picks at the beginning of the offseason.
Frolik stood in front of the Winnipeg bench and waved as the crowd cheered after the Blackhawks showed some of his highlights from his time in Chicago.
"It was awesome. The fans are great here," Frolik said. "They’re one of the best in the league and I really appreciate what they did. It’s something very special and will never forget it."
With the game in hand with 6:22 left in the third, Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig got a big cheer from the sellout crowd when he drove Jets defenseman Adam Pardy through a glass panel in Winnipeg’s end of the ice.
Pardy then was leaning over the boards and into the crowd when a fan took his helmet off and put it on. A woman also dumped her beer on Pardy before the officials were able to break up the scrum.
"I don’t know what happened to my stick, either. It got lost in the crowd somewhere, too," Pardy said. "Just a little insult to the injury, I guess. It was a tough night for all of us.
"It was tough enough to get put through the glass, but then to get a beer thrown on my head, too, it wasn’t a good thing."
Devin Setoguchi scored his third goal for the Jets in the third period of his 400th career game. Al Montoya had 24 stops in his second career game in his native Chicago.
The Blackhawks grabbed control at the end of the first, jumping ahead 2-0 in a span of 2:25 while bouncing back from Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Calgary.
Toews provided a spark when he set up Kane with a nice spinning pass on a 2-on-1. Kane was stopped by Montoya, but Toews skated around to the front of the net, got a pass from Sharp and stuffed it home at 17:29.
Kane then skated through much of Winnipeg’s end before beating Montoya with a wrist shot for his team-best ninth goal of the season with 6 seconds left in the first. Kane also had a dizzying skating stretch in the second that led to a tripping penalty on Jets forward Eric Tangradi.
"He had a couple of shifts when he was putting on a show," Toews said. "That was old-fashioned Kaner there. When he gets it going — I think that one play when he drew the penalty, it was pretty fun to watch."
Sharp made it 4-0 when he beat Montoya on the glove side at 4:00 in the third period.
Crawford was working on his first shutout of the season before Setoguchi scored on a rebound at 8:40 of the third. Former Blackhawks defenseman Dustin Byfuglien got an assist on the play.
"I thought the game was pretty much what we anticipated," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. "That’s a team that can really hurt you, and we made some of the mistakes we made the previous time we played these guys."
NOTES: Jets LW Evander Kane missed his second straight game with an unspecified injury. D Zach Redmond also was scratched. … Fs Michal Handzus, Jeremy Morin and Brad Mills were scratched for the Blackhawks. Handzus has missed six straight games with an upper-body injury. … It was Winnipeg’s first game in Chicago since a 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks on Oct. 13, 2011.