CHICAGO - Blackhawks backup Antti Niemi made 18 saves for his third shutout in seven starts this season, and Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist to lead Chicago past the slumping Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-0, last night.
Patrick Kane, Ben Eager, and Jonathan Toews also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won three of four and improved to 6-1-1 against Eastern Conference teams.
Kane left the game with 6 minutes, 59 seconds left in the first period due to an upper-body injury and didn't return. Kane landed hard after Tampa Bay's Matt Smaby tripped him along the boards and appeared to sustain a head injury either due to the impact or being hit with the puck.
Niemi, who made his eighth appearance, has started three times since Nov. 7. He allowed just one goal and posted two shutouts in those games.
Antero Niittymaki stopped 25 shots for the Lightning, 0-3-1 in their last four. Tampa Bay has scored just 13 goals in its 1-6-2 slide.
Both teams continued to struggle on the power play. Tampa Bay went 0 for 5 and has failed on 13 straight chances. Chicago went 0 for 7 and has scored on one of its last 19 advantages.
Kane scored the lone goal of the first period at 7:42 when his high wrist shot from the right point beat Niittymaki and clanked in off the left post.
Hossa had beaten Niittymaki with a close-in move about 3 minutes earlier, but Smaby swept the puck away as it reached goal line.
Niemi made two close-in saves on Tampa Bay's James Wright 4:15 into the second. About 8 minutes into the period, the Lightning's Steven Stamkos hit the post with a shot.
Tampa Bay 0 0 0 – 0
Chicago 1 2 1 – 4
First period: 1, Chicago, Kane 10 (Keith), 7:42. Penalties: Barker, Chi (interference), 2:25; Hedman, TB (holding), 10:54; Ohlund, TB (hooking), 11:44; Smaby, TB (tripping), 13:01.
Second period: 2, Chicago, Eager 2 (Hossa, Sopel), 10:42. 3, Chicago, Hossa 4 (Sharp, Seabrook), 19:44. Penalties: Sharp, Chi (tripping), 1:17; Byfuglien, Chi (slashing), 5:52; Keith, Chi (delay of game), 7:34; Konopka, TB, major (fighting), 15:10; Eager, Chi, major (fighting), 15:10; Toews, Chi (tripping), 17:01; Ohlund, TB (roughing), 19:17; Toews, Chi (roughing), 19:17.
Third period: 4, Chicago, Toews 9 (Byfuglien, Seabrook), 6:01. Penalties: Downie, TB (slashing), 9:36; Smaby, TB (hooking), 16:15; Fedoruk, TB, minor-misconduct (goaltender interference), 18:39; Hedman, TB (elbowing), 19:19.
Missed Penalty Shot: Brouwer, Chi, 18:20 third.
Shots on Goal: Tampa Bay 5-9-4–18. Chicago 11-7-11–29.
Power-play opportunities: Tampa Bay 0 of 5; Chicago 0 of 7.
Goalies: Tampa Bay, Niittymaki 6-5-4 (29 shots-25 saves). Chicago, Niemi 6-1-1 (18-18).
A: 21,081 (19,717). T: 2:26.
Referees: Steve Kozari, Bill McCreary. Linesmen: Jay Sharrers, Mark Shewchyk.
Avalanche 3, Flames 2
DENVER - Darcy Tucker scored his first goal in nearly two months, Craig Anderson stopped 19 shots, and Colorado beat Calgary to take over the top spot in the Northwest Division.
Chris Stewart and Wojtek Wolski also scored for the Avalanche, 3-0 this season against the Flames.
Rene Bourque and Mark Giordano scored for Calgary.
The Flames pulled Miikka Kiprusoff for an extra attacker with around a minute remaining, but couldn't tie it.
Kiprusoff gave up three goals, the most he has allowed since surrendering six in a loss to Chicago on Nov. 19.
The Avalanche have won four of their last five to take a two-point lead over the Flames in the division.
Colorado 1 2 0 – 3
First period: 1, Colorado, Wolski 13 (Stewart, Quincey), 13:05 (pp). Penalties: McGrattan, Cal, major (fighting), 1:52; Koci, Col, major (fighting), 1:52; Glencross, Cal (hooking), 5:39; Johnson, Cal (elbowing), 11:09; Glencross, Cal, double minor (high-sticking), 12:20; Iginla, Cal, major (fighting), 17:08; Kronwall, Cal (holding), 17:08; McLeod, Col, major (fighting), 17:08.
Second period: 2, Colorado, Stewart 7 (Stastny, Wolski), 9:17. 3, Calgary, Bourque 9 (Dawes), 10:34. 4, Colorado, Tucker 5 (Galiardi, Wilson), 17:19. Penalties: Hendricks, Col (holding stick), 1:29; Hannan, Col (holding), 6:03; Bouwmeester, Cal (tripping), 15:15.
Third period: 5, Calgary, Giordano 2 (Langkow, Bourque), 13:16 (pp). Penalties: Hendricks, Col (high-sticking), 2:33; Hannan, Col (cross-checking), 8:28; Tucker, Col (hooking), 11:39.
Shots on Goal: Calgary 6-8-7–21. Colorado 20-13-2–35.
Power-play opportunities: Calgary 1 of 5; Colorado 1 of 6.
Goalies: Calgary, Kiprusoff 17-8-4 (35 shots-32 saves). Colorado, Anderson 16-7-5 (21-19).
A: 11,448 (18,007). T: 2:15.
Referees: Dennis LaRue, Tom Kowal. Linesmen: Thor Nelson, Mark Wheler.