CHICAGO (Reuters) - The red-hot Chicago Blackhawks scored three quick goals in the final period to claim a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday that extended their winning streak to seven games.
Ryan Johnson, Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane each scored in a 4:32 span early in the third period to give the Blackhawks a 5-1 lead that proved too much for Carolina to overcome.
"It was a one-goal game, it's a hockey game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
"We got comfortable and relaxed and probably took it off the gas in the last two games. We stayed with it pretty well (Friday) and did what we had to do. It was a good game."
Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell scored Chicago's other goals in the first period.
With the win, the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks moved into fourth place in a tight Western Conference where four points separate Chicago and 11th place Minnesota.
"Even with this seven-game streak any night we can be out (of the playoffs) and any night we can be fourth or fifth," said Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook.
"We have to continue to roll and we have to continue to play hard and come out with a full 60 minutes every night."
The loss for Carolina, which got a first period equalising goal from Eric Staal and a late consolation from Jeff Skinner, prevented them from pulling away from the teams chasing them for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Carolina have 71 points with Buffalo and Toronto only three and four points back in ninth and 10th places.
"We just kind of collapsed, I guess," Hurricanes center Brandon Sutter said.
"Through two periods we didn't have our best game, but our goalie made some saves to keep us in it. We just kind of collapsed. We started cheating a little bit and weren't playing good defensively. They're going to capitalize on that."
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Frank Pingue/Patrick Johnston)