CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Blackhawks are on top of their game and back on top of the NHL.
That is almost satisfying to Chicago bench boss Joel Quenneville, who became the 10th NHL coach to earn 600 victories as the Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames 4-2 on Sunday night for their fifth straight win.
Steve Montador, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks, who got 22 saves from Ray Emery.
Chicago vaulted past Minnesota into first place in the NHL standings with a league-leading 46 points. The Blackhawks improved to 7-0-1 in their last eight games.
``We did some good things for the most part,' Quenneville said. ``Our puck possession game has gotten better as we've gone along.
``I don't think we should be satisfied ... but we've gotten production from a lot of places.'
Quenneville, who led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup title in 2010 - the franchise's first championship since 1961 - is 162-81-32 with Chicago, the best winning percentage in team history. He took over five games into the 2008-09 season.
Quenneville reached 600 wins in 1,113 games, the second fastest in league history. Scotty Bowman, a Blackhawks senior adviser, did it in 1,002 games.
``I've been fortunate in a lot of ways,' Quenneville said. ``I'm in a great spot here, very content, and I've got a a nice team to work with.'
Quenneville received the game puck from team captain Jonathan Toews.
``You don't get to that point without knowing a thing or two about hockey,' Toews said. ``He's done nothing but good things since he's come into this locker room, for the guys in here.'
The Blackhawks keep looking better. They haven't lost in regulation since Nov. 29.
``We're building our confidence every game,' Toews said. ``The last couple of games, we've distanced ourselves a little bit.'
Chicago built a 3-0 lead against the Flames and was in control throughout.
Calgary's Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross scored power-play goals in the third period, and both had an assist. Miikka Kiprusoff made 21 saves.
``I think we were just too easy on them in general,' Calgary forward Lee Stempniak said. ``We needed to make them play in their end to force them out of their comfort zone, and we just didn't do it.'
The Flames finished a four-game road trip at 0-2-2. The Blackhawks have won eight straight at home against Calgary, dating to a loss in March 2008.
``Of the four games we had on the road, this was certainly the most disappointing effort,' Calgary coach Brent Sutter said. ``You can't play that way against any team, let alone top teams, in the National Hockey League and think you have a chance to win.'
Emery, who has taken over for struggling No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, started and won for the fifth straight game. He is 9-1-2 overall, and has played in seven straight, including six starts.
Crawford hasn't played since a start on Dec. 5 against Phoenix when he was pulled early in the second period after allowing three goals on 16 shots.
Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook sustained an undisclosed upper body injury late in the first period and didn't return.
``He seemed not bad after the game,' Quenneville said. ``It was precautionary.'
Montador scored at 9:23 for the only goal in the first period. After the Blackhawks had controlled the puck in the Calgary zone for a nearly a minute, Montador fired in a low shot from the top of the right circle.
With 4:35 left in the first, Seabrook was slammed headfirst into the glass from behind by Flames forward Rene Bourque, who received a major penalty for boarding and was ejected. He remained on the ice face down for a minute before he was helped up and skated to the bench on his own.
The Blackhawks failed to capitalize on the ensuing power play.
Hjalmarsson made it 2-0 at 5:15 of the second with his first goal of the season. He took a pass at the top of the slot and fired a shot through a screen in front of Kiprusoff. The puck hit traffic and curled slowly into the net.
Kane's power-play goal with 5:05 left in the second extended Chicago's lead to 3-0. Kane moved in on right wing and beat Kiprusoff with a high screened shot from the slot.
Jokinen cut it to 3-1 with a power-play goal at 2:35 of the third, but Hossa restored Chicago's three-goal edge during a 5-on-3 power play midway through the period.
Glencross completed the scoring with a power-play goal with 3:35 left on a rebound of his own shot.
NOTES: Hossa has six goals and six assists in his last seven games. ... Chicago's Patrick Sharp had an assist to run his career-high point streak to nine games. ... Flames C Matt Stajan left the game late in the second period with an ankle injury and didn't return. Chicago LW Dan Carcillo sat out a second game with an undisclosed upper body injury. Both are day-to-day. Blackhawks LW Jeremy Morin played after being recalled from Rockford of the AHL earlier Sunday. Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who has 496 NHL goals, was held to one assist.
The Associated Press News Service
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