By Brad Vandenberk
After completing a 2 game road trip through the week with stops in Carolina and Philadelphia, returned to home soil to face a familiar foe in the Columbus Blue Jackets. This would spell the return of Jeremy Morin who saw 6:50 of ice and tallied 1 hit. The Hawks got on the board early but the Jackets did not stop coming putting 4 on the board in the first period and never looking back beating the Hawks 5-2 at the UC. This could not have come at a worse time as the Wild are now just 1 point behind them for 3rd in the Central division.
Corey Crawford got the start for the Hawks who was pulled midway through the first for Scott Darling. Sergei Bobrovsky shut the door making some key saves to get the win. Michal Rozsival did not play in this one as it was time for David Rundblad to see some action. Dan Carcillo and Joakim Nordstrom were both out with upper body injuries.
It didn’t take the Hawks long to get on the board. Brandon Saad and Johnny Oduya break into the zone and Saad rifles a shot over Bobrovsky for the early 1-0 lead. Less than a minute later Ryan Johansen grabs a Duncan Keith fumbled puck and breaks in all alone. He beats Crawford glove side to tie the game at 1. The Jackets come right back to the Hawks not allowing any time and space. Jonathan Toews has his pocket picked right before he fires a puck. The play comes down the other way and Cam Atkinson tips home a point shot, giving Columbus the lead 2-1 at the 10:36 mark of the period. Crawford is forced to face another breakaway but stops that one. Toews is Johnny on the spot as he tips home an Oduya point shot 2-2. It keeps getting worse for the Hawks in their own zone. Kevin Connauton fires a shot that has eyes and beats Crawford 3-2 with 8 minutes remaining. Johansen takes the first penalty of the game tripping Marian Hossa. During the power play Atkinson is sprung for another Jackets breakaway. He makes a nifty move making it 4-2 and spelling the end of Crawford’s night, in comes Scott Darling. Crawford allowed 4 goals on 13 shots. Antoine Vermette makes his way to Toews left wing as the period ends and can’t finish on a rebound sending the puck over the net. Hawks outshot the Jackets 16-13.
The second starts with Vermette remaining as Toews flank. That Sends Versteeg down to play with Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen. The Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith pairing also doesn’t last long with Kimmo Timonen heading out with number 7. Darling gets his first test 6 minutes into the period. Columbus gives the Hawks another power play when Marko Dano high sticks Bickell. Bobrovsky makes a great save on Andrew Shaw at the top of the crease. Brad Richards tries to dive to score but puts the puck through the crease. David Rundblad gives the Blue Jackets their first power play for tripping. Toews gets a shorthanded chance and Darling stays sharp. The Jackets just don’t stop coming. They send about 4 consecutive shots on Darling spinning the Hawks all over the zone. Brandon Dubinsky falls awkwardly into the boards but did stay in the game. Vermette is point blank once again still looking for his first goal as a Blackhawk. Shaw is battling in front of the net all night long. Darling makes a great glove save on a puck that re directs off Artem Anisimov’s skate bringing the crowd to their feet. The Shaw battling continues in front of Bobrovsky and this time Dalton Prout gets his stick in Shaw’s face and is called for cross checking giving the Hawks a power play with 20 seconds left. Keith hits the post with 10 seconds left and the period ends with the Hawks still owning the shots 28-22.
The final frame sees the Hawks start with 1:40 of power play time. Saad tries to wrap the puck around the net and is almost successful but Bobrovsky makes the save. The puck does slide past the line but the whistle had gone. Dano Heads to the box once again hooking Rundblad down. The fourth power play attempt is just as bad as the previous 3. Even Dubinsky gets a shorthanded chance on a 2 on 1. At this stage the fans grow restless letting their team know about it with a rain of boos. Bickell gets a sweet feed in front but can’t find the trigger. Hossa finds Versteeg who sends the puck over the net. It begins to look like the care factor has left the Hawks. Scott Hartnell gives the Hawks their 5th count them 5 power plays. Don’t even need to explain the outcome. Niklas Hjalmarsson shows his heart getting hit losing his stick and one glove and still manages to slide out in front of the net to try and make a defensive play. Darling heads to the bench with 2:25 left to play and Atkinson completes his 2nd career hat trick on the empty net sealing the 5-2 victory.
-Hawks outshot the Blue Jackets 33-27
-Hawks go 0/5 on the power play, Jackets 0/1.
-Keith led all hawks in TOI with 23:52, Seabrook was next at 21:09. Andrew Desjardins was the lowest at 8:29.
-Saad and Hossa led all Hawks with 4 shots on net.
-Minnesota Wild won their game on Friday night putting them just 1 point behind the Hawks for 3rd in the Central division.
-The Hawks have Winnipeg, LA, And Vancouver for their next 3 games. This isn’t a time to head on a slump.
Versteeg Toews Hossa Keith Seabrook
Saad Richards Sharp Oduya Hjalmarsson
Bickell Vermette Teravainen Timonen Rundblad
Desjardins Kruger Shaw