By Brad Gardner
The Blackhawks took two more hard fought points from the Blues Jackets at Nationwide Arena in a 2-1 shootout victory. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each scored in the shootout while Corey Crawford stopped two of the three Columbus shooters to seal the victory.
The Blue Jackets extended their point streak to 10 games but the club took only their second point from Chicago on the season. The Blackhawks won all four meetings between the two teams in what has turned out to be the final season that the two teams can be considered division rivals. It was far from an easy season sweep for the ‘Hawks, however, as each of those four victories were by one goal.
The fourth and final meeting of the season between the two teams was the longest yet, but despite a superb 39-save effort from Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blackhawks were able to beat the Jackets goaltender with each of their first two shootout attempts.
Jonathan Toews scored on another relatively straightforward play, using his quick release to beat Bobrovsky to the stick side. Kane’s conversion opened up only because he lost control of the puck on his way in. Bobrovsky lunged to poke it away, but Kane was able to recover, drag the puck away from the goalie onto his backhand, and lift it into the net.
As they have done throughout their streak, Columbus had good team defense and goaltending working for them for most of the game. While both teams had some looks in the opening frame, the period was highlighted by a fight between Andrew Shaw and Matt Calvert.
The scrap was initiated by Calvert, who got off to a quick start with a few short jersey jabs. Shaw responded with a couple big shots that landed, and the two continued to trade shots in the spirited bout. The number of power shots favored Shaw, but who knows how many of them Calvert felt with his helmet and visor on for most of the fight.
Columbus held a slight lead on the shot count 11-10 after the first period, but the teams went to the first intermission scoreless. That changed in the second period as both teams got onto the scoreboard late in the middle stanza.
Johnny Oduya scored his first goal of the season at 16:45 after Kane lofted a saucer pass by a couple Columbus players. The defenseman had room to load it up in the slot and sent an accurate shot over the glove hand of Bobrovsky. The Jackets goaltender faced some heavy traffic on the play with his own defenseman Cody Goloubef directly in front of him and recently recalled forward Jimmy Hayes tying up Fedor Tyutin beside the crease.
Corey Crawford was challenged by Tim Erixon on the very next shift but came up with a big glove save. Sheldon Brookbank was nonetheless whistled for a holding penalty, which put the Blue Jackets on their first power play of the game.
Despite sputtering along at 13-percent on the season, the Columbus power play came up with the game-tying goal at 17:37 of the second. Derrick Brassard picked up a loose puck off the draw, and as the ‘Hawks penalty killers flowed to their right, he sent the puck across the zone to defenseman Jack Johnson. He blasted a slap shot from the top of the circles that beat Crawford, despite his aggressive attempt to step out on the shot.
Chicago turned up the heat in the third period and overtime, doubling the 20 shots they had on net through the first 40 minutes. Bobrovsky came up huge against an early chance from Brandon Bollig, laying out to make the first save and the second.
The Blackhawks had a handful of chances from in close as they tried to get traffic around the net of Bobrovsky. Marian Hossa shot one hard and low but Brandon Saad was tied up and unable to get his stick on the rebound. Later, Brent Seabrook had a good look stopped as he was deep in the slot to tip a pass from Duncan Keith on net. The shot got through Saad’s screen in front but it was soaked up by Bobrovsky.
None of the looks at either end compared to Dave Bolland’s in overtime as he had the game on his stick. The Blackhawks were able to control the puck in the offensive zone during the 4-on-4 as they made a line change. The crisp passing eventually resulted in an open shot from Nick Leddy in the middle of the ice, but Bobrovsky stepped out and got most of the shot. The rebound squirted out to the goalie’s right, directly to Dave Bolland. Bobrovsky made a hell of a play to quickly lay his stick down across the crease and control the bouncing puck with his glove, but there’s no question Bolland would have liked to get a little air under the puck.
Crawford came up with some big saves of his own during the wide open play in overtime, Nick Foligno should be mentioned somewhere, but it was the two saves Crawford made in the shootout that closed out the victory. Artem Anisimov was the first Columbus shooter and he was able to beat Crawford by roofing a backhander over his shoulder. Neither of the other shooters were able to get such opportunities, as Ryan Johansen deked himself into a corner with only a backhand attempt an option. Crawford stayed with him and didn’t leave any room. Derrick Brassard shot third but seemed to lose the puck on his way in, giving Crawford enough of a window to use the poke check and prohibit a chance.
– Crawford didn’t quite look dominant, but he put together a strong showing and made his fair share of big saves to keep the score tied. Both teams had a few fortunate bounces in their own end and Crawford also benefited from some good defensive plays from top four.
– Jimmy Hayes made his season debut with the Blackhawks, skating on the left side of the second line with Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane. Hayes’ mission was clear – get to the front of the net – and he was fairly successful with that. He was credited with two shots and one hit in 15:50 of ice time. He created some room on the ice as well, one need look no further than the way he blocked Tyutin out of the shooting lane on the Oduya goal.
– Kane’s assist on the Oduya goal was his 400th career NHL point.
– Brandon Bollig had a good showing on the fourth line, credited with four shots in 8:10. Most were from in close but he couldn’t solve Bobrovsky.
– The Blackhawks power play was 0-for-1 in the game. The penalty kill finished 1-for-2 after giving up the goal to Johnson.
– 3 Stars of the Game: 3. Patrick Kane… 2. Corey Crawford… 1. Sergei Bobrovsky
– The Blackhawks hit the ice Saturday at 7pm central as they head to Texas to take on Jaromir Jagr’s Dallas Stars.