By Brad Vandenberk
The Hawks held their heads high on their way into Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio Saturday afternoon, only days after beating one of the NHL’s best teams in the New York Rangers Thursday night.
This was the last of the Hawks nine consecutive road games and setting a team record for the most consecutive road games in franchise history at nine. The road bout was over 19 days long and they didn’t waste time taking advantage of a Central Division team that is rumored to be moving on without their franchise player in Rick Nash as they try to start their rebuilding process. In their last four meetings, the Hawks have taken all of them!
Coach Q headed into this matchup with only one change to his lineup and with no surprise sending Andrew Shaw back to Rockford and giving Jimmy Hayes another chance to play with the big boys! Hayes only twenty two years old has four goals and seven points with six penalty minutes in his 13 starts with the Blackhawks this season. Headed into this game knowing the Jackets were a vulnerable bunch, Coach Q made sure his team started off strong and chased all the lose pucks.
Crawford got his second consecutive start with no hesitation from the coaching staff with healthy scratches in Michael Frolik and Brandon Morrison while Hjalmarsson and Montador sat up stairs as he is still on the IR. Sean O’Donnell, Jonathan Toews and Sami Lepisto created one of the first opportunities of the game with a fight along the boards for the puck, moments before Sami Lepisto gave it right to Derick Brassard and he puts his 10th of the season over Crawford’s glove. The pass came from Grant Clitsome at 5:13 of the first.
Chicago turns to Jamal Mayers, Jimmy Hayes and Marion Hossa early into the period as they get stuck in their own zone while the Jackets move it around, but Columbus just couldn’t seem to get the puck to the net. Out came the Toews lines and they allowed another great opportunity, but Crawfrod comes up big with a blocker save on Umburger. This was followed up with another great chance as Dorsett took a pass, and Crawford made a diving save and Seabrook saved the day clearing the puck out of the crease.
Halfway through period around at the 10:05 mark, the Jackets kept the pressure on not allowing the Hawks to gain the zone and create any more opportunities. The matchup continued between Toews and his high scoring trio facing the Samuel Pahlsson line once again.
Coach Q moved John Scott from to left defense alongside O’Donnell who replaces Lepisto after the present he gave to Brassard earlier on.
Patty Kane’s line hit the ice again and won a big faceoff in his own zone. Keith then moved the puck from the corner to Jonathan Toews and he makes his way into the Jackets zone as Kane crosses behind for support. Toews then drives the net and put the puck under Mason then half Bobby Orr’s on his way into the corner. At 7:33 the Hawks then led by two goals with Keith and Sharp getting the helpers. Toews line is back out again with 5:51 left and tried to go to the dressing room with the lead, but minutes later, Victor Stalberg tips in a great pass from Bryan Bickell who benefits from a misplay by goaltender Mason behind the net as the puck bounced over his stick.
As the scoring frenzy was about to start, so was the tempers of some players. At the 10:11 mark of the second, Derek Mackenzie and Jimmy Hayes went toe to toe with this fight lasting a total of 9 seconds! I think you know who won this one? They had something going all afternoon, it was a matter of time and time came for Mr. MacKenzie to make this stupid decision. This put an end to a penalty free game!
With under eight minutes left in the second, the jackets get in the dirty areas and keep the Hawks penned in their zone once again, eventually the Hawks get it out and Patty Kane lets a one timer go up and over Mason into the glass. Sharp feed it down low Toews who finds Kane high who finds Sharp low and another puck is behind Mason. This was Sharp’s 24th goal of the season as both Jackets defense where behind the net. Sharp who was standing all by himself to Masons right, fired a shot off Mason’s right skate that went off the right post that then off masons back left skate and off now the left post and into the back of the net. Everything seemed to have gone Chicago’s way after this goal Saturday afternoon.
The Jackets fight back with some pressure of their own, but can’t seem to get anything going. Out came the Toews line again and yes you guessed it, more insurance with another goal from a turnover at the blue line allowing Kane to gain the zone and put it between the legs of Mason who then fell over clutching Toews stick between his legs in frustration. That was it for Mason as Todd Richards had seen enough. Allen York had the duties of shutting down the trio for the rest of the game with 4:30 to go in the second and Toews and Sharp hit the game sheet once again.
After four unanswered goals in the second, the Hawks look to ride out the win and head back home on a two game winning streak, but Columbus was not going to go down easy. Chicago widened their box and cut down the offensive zone for the Jackets,
With 15;27 remaining in the third, Kane starts another routine breakout deep in the Hawks zone allowing Brunette to cross the blue line and set up a little give and go with Hossa, who gives it back to him who then finds Kruger in front who scores his sixth of the year shattering any hopes of a Blue Jackets come back.
With the Brunette line having left the ice just after a little reward from scoring the Hawks last goal, Bolland’s line gets another chance to pad the stats and that’s just what happened. Bolland benefits from another turnover deep in the Jackets zone and then passed it back to Lepisto who can only hope he can redeem himself and does so with a lucky redirect off of one of York’s own defense.
In a game where Chicago had controlled the results the tension got tighter. Scott and Dorsett have words and Scott gives Dorsett an opportunity to save himself, but decides not to and Scott got the best of him. Dorsett got the extra two minutes for instigating a 10 minute misconduct and a second misconduct.
The Jackets don’t give up and get another 2 scoring opportunities, but Chicago plays some more perimeter hockey and doesn’t allow too much more. Then the Jackets take a penalty for slashing and the Hawks try and take some minutes off the clock.
With under 5 minutes left in the game, the Hawks seemed to have kept the control and move along with as coach Q rewarded his players that made the score sheet, which wasn’t hard because all three lines had something to say this afternoon.
This game ended a very interesting 9 game road swing for the Hawks resulting in only four points out of a possible 18, yes just two wins.
- Stalberg has registered the game-winning goal in three of four meetings with Columbus this season, and has scored 7 of his 15 goals in those three outings
- Victor Stalberg first four games facing Columbas has seven goals and eight assists and a hat trick on January 10th against Columbas
- Toews, Kane and Sharpe combine for eight points.
- Three stars of the game were Toews, Sharp and Kane!