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Sharp, Vandermeer each tally twice to keep Blackhawks unbeaten

Sep 23, 2006 - 2:07 AM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- It may be a little premature, but the Chicago Blackhawks are showing marked improvement from their dismal 2005-06 season.

Patrick Sharp and defenseman Jim Vandermeer each scored twice to lift the Blackhawks to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, keeping Chicago unbeaten after three preseason games.

Sharp, who recorded 23 points in 50 games with Chicago after being acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers on December 8, scored both of his goals on the power play. The 24-year-old center gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead at 7:53 of the first period and snapped a 2-2 tie with 2:41 remaining in the middle session.

Sharp was one of only five Blackhawks to post a favorable plus-minus rating last season, finishing at plus-5.

Vandermeer forged the tie midway through the second and gave Chicago some breathing room at the halfway mark of the third.

Tony Salmelainen also scored and Michael Holmqvist collected three assists for the Blackhawks, who went 3-for-10 on the power play.

Geoff Platt and defenseman Duvie Westcott tallied for the Blue Jackets, who went 1-for-13 with the man advantage and have been outscored, 13-3, in their last two losses.

Corey Crawford made 33 saves for Chicago, while Ty Conklin allowed five tallies on 28 shots for Columbus.

The Blackhawks have surrendered just four goals in their three preseason contests.

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