CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks wing Jocelyn Lemieux kept two score cards Thursday night. One was a personal check list to see how he stacked up against his brother, Claude, who plays for the New Jersey Devils.
"I asked Jocelyn what the score was on the bench and he said 1-1, then it went to 2-1 in favor of Claude when he scored another goal," said coach Mike Keenan. "But Jocelyn said we ended up with the score that counts, 5-3."
The Blackhawks' 5-3 victory over the Devils was just another routine nuts-and-bolts job off the assembly line, which is producing victories like hot cakes.
It stretched their unbeaten record at home to a commanding six games (5-0-1). They last lost in the Stadium Dec. 9.
Claude Lemieux scored two power-play goals in the third period to give him 19 for the season to keep the decision in doubt to the end, but it was Jocelyn's fifth goal this season that put the Hawks ahead 4-2. It was one of the their three third-period goals.
"Claude and I bumped a little," he said, "but we try not to talk. If I'd done something stupid, though, I'd have heard from him. But he played good, and I'm happy the way I played."
The new year actually looked just like the old. In a grinding style, the Blackhawks simply outlasted and outfinished the Devils. Not pretty, not exciting, just effective.
"It was a tough game for both clubs," Keenan said. "We were fairly patient and progressively got better as the game went on. We had a little more edge to win."
The Blackhawks have won three straight and continue to show the way in the National Hockey League with 59 points. That puts them six points ahead of their nearest pursuer, the New York Rangers, who lead the Patrick. And they maintained a nine-point lead on St. Louis in the Norris Division.
Ed Belfour collected his 25th victory in net, needing to turn away just 21 shots.
"He's never let up since training camp," Keenan said.
The Blackhawks penalty-killers had allowed just two goals in 37 extra-man situations coming into this game. But the Devils stuck a hole in that wall with Lemieux's two goals.
Wing Michel Goulet managed a power-play goal that gave Chicago a 2-1 lead after two periods. It helped make up for a goal he missed earlier in the second period when he was camped all alone in front of the crease and shot high against goalie Sean Burke.
"He was probably wondering after that," Keenan said, "but he's an intelligent player. That bank shot at the end was no mistake."
Goulet picked up a second goal for the night by banking a shot off the boards in the neutral zone that slid into an empty net with 33 seconds to tick.
"To have Goulet and Steve Larmer on both sides of me is great in my second year in the league," said center Jeremy Roenick. "They're carrying me through a tough time now.
"They're both hard to please. They're perfectionists, and I'm not. I'm just an optimist. But they put the competitiveness in me."
Larmer knows all about crafty veterans. He's one. He says Goulet is another.
"He always seems to be in the right position," Larmer said. "He's patient, works hard and never seems to get beat defensively."
Goulet left the dressing room without speaking to the media because he was in a hurry to visit a friend in the hospital, the club said, but his linemates assisted him again by singing his praises.
Defenseman Dave Manson has gotten less involved in the fighting side of the game since his four-game suspension Nov. 1-6. He has just two fighting penalties and three roughings in the 26 games since then, and he continued to show his personal turnaround by slapping home a shot the point to get the Hawks going.
"I want to show certain aspects of my game," Manson said. "I'll be there if the guys need me to stick up for them, but I'm trying to keep everything simple."
Manson's only exchange with Devils tough-guy Troy Crowder was with the puck. He gave Crowder the puck in the Chicago zone, and that allowed Crowder the opening he needed to tie the score at 1.
Wayne Presley often tries a move in which he slips the puck past the defender and then skates around him. It doesn't work very often, but it clicked this time.
He burned Soviet defenseman Viacheslav Fetisov with the pretty move down right wing and caught the far left corner of the net to account for his eighth goal this season to break a 2-2 tie in the third period.