The Chicago Blackhawks continued to shine with Ray Emery in goal, claiming a routine 4-2 triumph over the Calgary Flames to register a fifth straight victory and climb to the top of the NHL standings on Sunday.
Emery, who has prospered since replacing regular starter Corey Crawford during the winning streak, made 22 saves to keep the Blackhawks rolling.
The victory marked the 600th in the career of Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.
“There’s nothing better than winning,” Quenneville told reporters.
“I’ve been on some great teams and with some great organizations and some great players and coaches. I’m very content and I’ve got a nice team to work with,” Quenneville said.
Chicago jumped out of the gate for a 3-0 lead, getting a first-period marker from Steve Montador and scores in the second period from Niklas Hjalmarsson and Patrick Kane.
Marian Hossa’s 15th goal of the season provided a 4-1 cushion for the Blackhawks (21-8-4) in the third as they extended their Central Division lead to four points and leapfrogged the idle Minnesota Wild in the overall standings.
Patrick Sharp assisted on Chicago’s final goal to extend his point streak to nine games, the longest in the NHL this season.
Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross both scored in the third for the Flames (14-15-4), who concluded a woeful four-game road trip with a fourth straight defeat.
“For the first two periods, we weren’t very good,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said.
“I’m not going to stand here and say we deserved the game. You can’t play 40 minutes of hockey like that on the road and think that you’re going to have a chance to win the game,” he said.
PANTHERS 3, HURRICANES 2
In Sunrise, Florida, Kris Versteeg scored 3:08 into overtime to give Florida a victory over Carolina.
Stephen Weiss’ shot from in front was blocked, but Versteeg found the loose puck and swept it in from the left side of the crease for his team-leading 16th goal of the season.
Sean Bergenheim and Jason Garrison also scored for Florida, while Jose Theodore made 24 saves.
The Panthers have earned at least one point in eight straight home games.
Tim Gleason and Chad LaRose had goals for the Hurricanes, who have lost 10 of 12.
BLUES 6, BLUE JACKETS 4
In St Louis, Jason Arnott triggered a four-goal, third-period rally with the tiebreaking goal to lead the Blues.
St Louis won for the fifth time in six games and improved to 13-3-1 at home, matching Detroit for the most home wins. The Blues are also 13-2-4 under new coach Ken Hitchcock, who took over for the fired Davis Payne on Nov. 6.
Alex Steen, Alex Pietrangelo and Patrik Berglund also scored in the third period for St Louis, which trailed 3-2 after two. T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk added goals for the Blues.
Derek Dorsett and Derek MacKenzie also scored for the Blue Jackets, who lost for the fifth time in six games.