By Brad Gardner
The Chicago Blackhawks took the ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second time this week on Friday night. A back-and-forth affair eventually swung in favor of the home team, with Brent Seabrook scoring the game winning goal in a 4-3 overtime victory.
Ray Emery got the nod in net for the Blackhawks after posting two thirds of the team’s shutout the previous night in St. Louis. Corey Crawford, who left that game against the Blues after the first period due to injury, dressed as Emery’s back-up.
The Hawks squeezed past the Jackets, the NHL’s lowest ranked team in the standings, in a 1-0 regulation win on Sunday and Todd Richards’ club again proved to be all the Hawks could handle on Friday. The Jackets pushed out to a pair of one-goal leads during the first 40 minutes and were still able to put together a good effort in the third period to tie it up and force overtime.
Columbus got on the board quickly on a Vinny Prospal goal just 31 seconds into the game. Derek Dorsett sent a fluttering shot on goal from the right wing boards and Emery was unable to handle the puck. Prospal beat everybody to the rebound before Emery could locate the puck, giving the Blue Jackets an early 1-0 lead.
The Hawks got off to a bit of a slow start, but they were able to build some momentum off of a late first period power play. Viktor Stalberg, continuing his dominance against Columbus, scored the answering goal the second after the man advantage expired. Patrick Kane started the play when he snapped a quick shot in on Mason. Brandon Saad tried to kick the rebound onto his own stick but he swung and missed. The puck still made it’s way to Stalberg, who whacked it past Mason to knot the game at 1-1.
The Jackets again played a tight-checking game and limited the Hawk’s chances in the first half of the game. The two teams only had a combined 18 shots through the first 30 minutes, but the chances increased late in the second.
Artem Anisimov gave Columbus their second lead of the game when his slap shot was deflected past Emery at 12:42 of the second. Anisimov wound up from the sideboards, not far from the blue line, and his shot changed direction off the inside of Dan Carcillo‘s skate. Emery didn’t have a chance as the puck sailed past him and gave the Jackets a 2-1 lead.
The teams swapped more quality chances, but it wound up being a soft backhander that beat Mason to draw the Blackhawks even again. Patrick Sharp skated up the left wing and soft-tossed a backhander towards the crease. Mason mishandled it so extensively with his glove that he deflected it through his own five hole and into the net, tying the game at 2-2.
Only 59 seconds later, Bryan Bickell gave the Hawks their first lead of the game with a wrist shot during a 2-on-1 break. Bickell’s pressure on Nikita Nikitin at the Columbus blue line forced the initial turnover, and aided by Nikitin’s blow out in the neutral zone, Bickell carried the puck the other way with Stalberg on the opposite wing. Bickell’s quick release beat Mason to the far side just before Fedor Tyutin slid through the slot, taking Bickell down into the endboards as he celebrated his goal.
No lead would have felt safe in the third as the Jackets applied pressure against a Hawks team that played in St. Louis the night before. Vinny Prospal had two grade-A chances himself, the first a one-timer from in close and the second a strong carry to the front of the net that was stifled by Emery’s pad.
The Blackhawks goaltender stood tall and wide against Prospal’s opportunities, but could not turn away a breakaway chance for Ryan Johansen 12:23 into the third period. The Hawks thought the puck was getting out of the zone, but the bounce off the boards was held in at the blue line. Nick Foligno eventually found the puck on his stick in the high slot and was able to thread a pass to Johansen breaking to the net behind the Blackhawks defensemen. Johansen was able to lift his backhander up and beat Emery for his first goal of the season.
Both goalies made plays to keep the game even as play opened up late in regulation and into overtime. Chicago had a majority of the pressure, registering 17 shots in the third period alone. The Blackhawks defensemen were especially active during the overtime frame and Brent Seabrook was able to cash in at 3:23 of overtime. Jonathan Toews drove the puck into the zone and threw a blind pass to the middle of the ice, hitting Seabrook perfectly for an easy goal.
– The Blackhawks have now played 21 games this season without suffering a regulation loss. It was the team’s 27th straight game with a point in the standings dating back to last season.
– A relative donnybrook by Blackhawks standards, both Sheldon Brookbank and Daniel Carcillo dropped the gloves. Brookbank took on Nick Foligno early in the game and was involved in extracurricular activities on a couple other occasions later. Carcillo, who charged at full speed through Fedor Tyutin along the boards, was challenged by Nikita Nikitin, who hung in for a bit but eventually relented after a couple solid strikes.
– Not much in the way of power play action in this one – Columbus was 0-for-1 and Chicago 0-for-2 in the game. The altercation between Nikitin and Carcillo 61 seconds into the middle frame resulted in the final infractions of the game.
– Lineup notes: Sheldon Brookbank played after being a healthy scratch for four straight games, replacing Michal Rozsival on the third pairing. Dave Bolland skated Friday morning but did not play, missing his fourth consecutive game.
– Three stars of the game: 3. Ray Emery… 2. Vinny Prospal… 1. Bryan Bickell.
– Friday’s game marked the 200th consecutive sellout at the United Center.
– The Blackhawks travel to Detroit for their next game Sunday, 11:30am central.