After three days off, it took 65 minutes and a shootout for the Blackhawks to get back in the win column on Thursday night.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who was named the Number One Star of the Week by the NHL last week, continued his incredible run with a fantastic performance. He allowed only one goal against 40 Chicago shots – stopping 20 in the third period and overtime – but came up just short in the shootout.
The Hawks were able to put sustained pressure on Bobrovsky and the Jackets for most of the second half of the game, but failed to elevate the puck on a number of great scoring chances and were robbed.
On the other end of the ice, Corey Crawford rebounded from a couple rough performances to earn a big victory. He stopped 29 of 30 shots, many of which were in traffic, and looked good in the shootout to get the Hawks the second point.
Patrick Kane’s assist on Johnny Oduya’s goal in the second period was the 400th point of his young NHL career. He is the fifth-fastest player in Blackhawks’ history to reach that mark, and continues to have a stellar season. Kane skated 20:20 and was credited with a hit in the game.
Jimmy Hayes, called up from Rockford earlier in the week, spent most of the night skating with Kane and Dave Bolland on the second line. Coach Joel Quenneville put him on the ice a lot for his first game in the NHL this season (21 shifts, 15:50), and Hayes had a few good moments. But he struggled to keep up with the speed of Kane and Bolland and didn’t establish good position in front of the Columbus net often enough.
He had been playing center primarily in Rockford, and was credited with one hit and one blocked shot in the game. With Patrick Sharp out for at least another week, it will be interesting to see how Quenneville uses Hayes in the coming games.
Faceoffs continue to be an issue for the Hawks. Only two Blackhawks won more than half of their faceoffs on Thursday night: Toews (13 of 22) and Hayes (1 of 1). Andrew Shaw won three of only six faceoffs in the game, and also spent five minutes in the box after fighting Matt Calvert late in the first period.
Bolland had a rough start to his night at the dot, winning only one of seven faceoffs in the first 40 minutes. He did rebound well, though, winning five of six in the third and overtime to finish the night winning six of 13. He also tied for the team’s high of three blocked shots in the game (with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith).
After winning five straight, the Jackets have now lost back-to-back games by identical 2-1 scores in a shootout; they lost to the Canucks at home on Tuesday night. However, Columbus has at least one point in all eight games they have played in March and have only three losses (two of which are from Chicago) in the month.
For the Blackhawks, all three victories this season against the Jackets have been by one goal. Assuming they don’t meet in the postseason, Thursday night was the last game of the divisional “rivalry” between these two franchises; Columbus will move to the Eastern Conference next season.